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 Visual Studies Guide

A guide to Visual Studies

Introduction

Welcome! This guide is intended for anyone who is interested in Visual Studies, no matter your background. When scholars talk about "visual studies," they are typically referring to an interdisciplinary approach that addresses various forms of visual objects and experiences while simultaneously critically examining and exploring the ways in which we see, know, and understand. As such, visual media can be anything from films, to physical photographs, to images on social media, and everything in between. 

Resources for Images

At the Trico, there are two resources in particular that are excellent for finding images. Triarte features all of the art and artifacts held by Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges. If you find something in Triarte, you can make an appointment to see any of those resources in the schools where they are held. Because Triarte is globally accessible, the images on the site are quite low-quality and small in size. Therefore, consider using Artstor in tandem with Triarte, in order to view the same images in high resolution. Artstor is IP specific, so be sure to use it when on campus. 

Using Google for Images and other search tips

Most people turn to Google first to find images. This can be problematic for many reasons, especially copyright. Many websites that might pop up as results, including image sharing sites such as Pinterest, will not provide you with appropriate information about an image. Therefore, try to use images from respected institutions, such as museums, libraries, and other university sites. Here are some tips (all of these tips work for Google images as well!). 

  • Search for only academic websites:
    Add site:.edu to your search terms to search for (US) academic websites. For example: queer art site:.edu will yield only college/university results. Pay attention to the results you get from Google--look at the URLs (the website's address) and be sure they end with .edu. 
  • You can do the same for museums or libraries, or government sites, just change the .edu to .org or .gov. Search for something such as Ansel Adams:.org and you will likely find museums and other institutions that hold his artwork. 
  • You can also search within a particular website, just add the following "site:" statement to your search results. 
    keith haring site:metmuseum.org
  • Use double quotes to search for exact phrases such as "visual studies." 
  • Emphasize certain search terms:
    Use the + sign to bring search results containing certain terms towards the top of your Google results.
    For example: queer representations +drag
  • Eliminate commonly associated search terms. You can exclude search results that include certain words. For example: 
    postcolonial art -India will yield results about postcolonial art but will not include Indian artists.