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Film Studies

This guide is an introduction to the resources for Film Studies at Dartmouth. If you are interested in Television, see the separate research guide for Television.


This page looks at researching "themes" in film. For example, if you wanted to research how "minorities" are portrayed in movies or look at "death", this page will give you tips.

Definition for "theme"

In film studies, a theme is a central message within a narrative of a film or television show. In general, themes fit into two categories: a work's thematic concept is what the audience "think the work is about" and its thematic statement being "what the work says about the subject of the story." As you can imagine, these vary based on the film, characters, director, and writer. 

[Source: No Film School, 05/27/2022]

In the Library's collections

The online catalog is always a great place to start your research. Do the search for "motion pictures" as a subject in the online catalog. Another subject heading you can use in the catalog is "motion pictures plots, themes, etc." You also see "[topic] in motion pictures." These are your themes. Click on any one of those and you see what we have in our collection.

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's also available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.