Film Studies: Reference Works

film, films, cinema

Why Reference Works?

Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:

  • Getting an overview of a topic
  • Getting topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
  • Learning the key works on a given topic
  • Discovering the key authors on a given topic

Reference works are a good starting off point, but should not be cited in your research as they are not considered primary or secondary sources. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).

Online Encyclopedias & Reference Resources

Search for Subject Encyclopedias (PSU Only)

Enter a topic below

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background information on a variety of topics. Those with a call number starting with REF are on the 2nd floor and all others are in the stacks by their call number. Anything without a call number is an electronic resource.

Selected Print Resources

The New York Times Encyclopedia of Film / ed. by Gene Brown
PN1993.45 .N4 1984 | 4th Floor
Reprints all film review articles from New York Times from 1986 through 1979. Title, subject and name indexes.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science fiction / 3rd ed.
PN1995.9 .S26 H3 1995 | 2nd Floor
Each entry gives brief critical synopsis of the film and credits for primary cast, director, production company, country of origin.

The Film Encyclopedia / 3rd ed.
PN1993.45 K34 1998 | 4th Floor
Entries on theories, genres and movements as well as on significant individual films and directors. Keyword and subject indexes.

Encyclopedia of American War Films/ Larry Langman and Ed Borg
PN1995.9 .W3 L36 1989 | 4th Floor
Articles on American movies, cartoons, documentaries and short subject films about war. Listed by title, with descriptions and credits. Supplementary lists of award-winning films, of film biographies by subject and of movies by the name of the war portrayed.

Encyclopedia of Television/ ed. by Horace Newcomb, 3 vols
PN1992.18 .E53 1997 | Off site collection 

Pre-cinema History: An encyclopaedia and annotated bibliography of the moving image before 1896/ Hermann Hecht
TR848 .H38 1993 | 5th Floor

The New York Public Library Performing Arts Desk Reference
PN1584 .N49 1994 | 2nd Floor
Covers theater, music and dance with a glossary of terms for each discipline; an article on dramatic structure, biographies of major writers and synopses of major plays. Articles on production and a list of major theaters and companies; directing and biographies of directors; acting and biographies of actors. Short historical essays on world theater, forms of theater, drama criticism, film, theater awards, and funding sources/grants. List of theater reference books, magazines, libraries, museums, and other theater organizations.

Film: A reference guide/ Robert Armour
PN1993.45 .A75 | 2nd Floor
Bibliographic essays on history of film, film production, film criticism, film and society, major actors and directors, reference works and periodicals. Only English-language publications are cited.

International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers/ 2nd ed. ed. by Nicholas Thomas, 5 vols.
PN1997.8 .I58 1990 | 4th Floor
Vol. 1: films. Vol. 2: directors. Vol. 3: actors & actresses. Vol. 4: writers & production artists. Vol. 5: title index. Encyclopedic information with excellent bibliographies and good illustrations. International coverage.

Women Filmmakers and Their Films
PN1998.2 .W66 1998 | 2nd Floor
Includes chronology of women filmmakers, essays on the subject, a listing of women filmmakers and indexes by nationality and occupation, awards and film title.

The Women's Companion to International Film / ed. by Annette Kuhn
PN1993.45 .W6 1990 | 2nd Floor
Feminist guide to film, with alphabetical entries on individuals and topics.

Blacks in Film and Television: A Pan-African bibliography of films, filmmakers, and performers / compiled by John Gray
Z5784 .M9 G72 1990 | 5th Floor

Hispanics in Hollywood: An encyclopedia of film and television / Luis Reyes
PN1995.9 .H47 R49 1994 | 2nd Floor

Key Concepts in Cinema Studies / Susan Hayward
PN1993.45 .H36 1996 | 2nd Floor
Includes terminology for film genres, major movements, theories of cinema, and key film production terms.

The Language of Cinema / Kevin Jackson
PN1993.45 .J23 1998 | 2nd Floor
2000 words referring to the technology, business and skills of film-making, with their histories.

An International Dictionary of Theatre Language / ed. by Joel Trapido
PN2035 .I5 1985 | 2nd Floor

International Film Prizes : An encyclopedia / Tad Bentley Hamme
PN1993.4 .H28 1991 | 2nd Floor

Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion/ 12th ed., 1997 Leslie Halliwell
PN1993.45 .H315 | 2nd Floor
Brief entries for actors past and present with complete filmographies for some. Entries for fictional characters and popular film themes. List of Academy Award winners, selective bibliography of recommended books on film history, and brief chronology of the history of films internationally.

Halliwell's Film and Video Guide/ (1998)
PN1993.45 .H27 | Various floors. Check catalog
Alphabetical title listing of 20,000 films, with cast members, writers, directors, producers, plot synopsis,brief critical evaluations, alternative titles, and availability on disc or tape.

Frame by Frame: a Black filmography / Phyllis Rauch Klotman
PN1995.9 .N4 K57 | 4th Floor
Comprehensive coverage, with critical analyses of authors and works in all areas of film studies.

The Academy Awards Index: The complete categorical and chronological record / Richard Shale
PN1993.92 .S53 1993 | 2nd Floor
Lists all nominees and recipients. Indexed by categories, names and titles.

The Television Industry: a historical dictionary / Anthony Slide
PN1992.3 .U5 S57 1991 | 2nd Floor
Entries on companies, distributors, organizations, genres, technical terms, etc. Gives addresses for organizations and some bibliographies. Separate biographies on major figures (e.g. Paley, Sarnoff, Goldman). Bibliography of reference books on television.

Radio: a reference guide / Thomas Allen Greenfield
Z7224 .U6 G74 1989 | 5th Floor
An evaluative survey of research on radio, including radio drama, music, comedy and variety, sports, network and station histories, women in radio, radio advertising, religious broadcasting, Armed Forces Radio, organizations, collections, journals, and indexes.

Historical dictionary of American radio / ed. by Donald G. Godfrey
PN1991.2 .H57 1998 | 2nd Floor

On the air: the encyclopedia of old-time radio / John Dunning
PN1991.3 .U6 D8 1998 | 4th Floor

Reviews & Criticism

Magill's Survey of Cinema--Silent Films / 3 vols.
PN1995.75 .M33 1982 | 2nd floor
Articles on individual silent films produced 1902-1936.

Magill's Survey of Cinema--English language films / first.series, 4 vols.
PN1993.45 .M3 | 2nd floor

Magill's Survey of Cinema--English language films / second series, 6 vols.
PN1993.45 .M32 | 2nd floor

Magill's Survey of Cinema, Foreign language films / 8 vols.
PN1993.45 .M34 1985 | 2nd floor
Broad overview of films, with emphasis on major genres, directors and performers. Entries for individual films include release date, credits, principal characters & cast, with an essay which includes plot summary and critical comment. Indexed by titles, directors, screenwriters, etc. Chronological list of titles at the end of each series.

New York Times Film Reviews / (1913-1998).
PN1993 .N4 | Off-Site Collection - Make Request: Library Use Only.
Full texts of reviews appearing in the NYT Film Reviews. Chronologically arranged with index.

Variety Film Reviews / 24 vols. (1907-1996).
PN1995 .V34 | 4th floor
Full texts of reviews appearing in Variety. Chronologically arranged with index.

Variety television reviews / (1923-1988) 15 vols.
PN1992.3 .U5 V36 | 2nd floor
Texts of reviews appearing in Variety

Variety and Daily variety television reviews / (1989/90-present)
PN1992.3 .U5 V36 | 2nd floor
Supplements the preceding entry. Chronologically arranged texts of reviews appearing either in Variety (New York) or in Daily Variety (Hollywood).

Film review index 1882-1985 / edited by Patricia King Hanson, 2 vols.
Z5784 .M9 F513 1986 | 5th floor
Bibliography of reviews, history and criticism of major films. Indexed by directors, date produced and country of origin.