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Tisch Library, Tufts University

Medieval Architecture

Research Sources & Tips







Overviews and Visuals

Reserves and Books

Journal Articles

Writing and Citing Sources


I. Overviews and Visuals

Definitions and Overviews

Research Tips:


Course Reserves (textbooks/readings)


The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval art and Architecture / edited by Colum P. Hourihane.

CREDO Reference

Over 600 reference resources from numerous publishers.

The Dent Dictionary of Symbols in Christian Art. N7825 .S68 1994

Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art. N7560 .H34 2008

Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography. N7560 .E53 1998

English Mediaeval Architects: a Biographical Dictionary Down to 1550: Including Master Masons, Carpenters, Carvers, Building Contractors, and Others Responsible for Design. NA963 .H37 1984

The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. N7830 .M87 1996

Oxford Art Online

access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today, including Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

Oxford Reference

100 major Oxford University Press dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works in all subjects.

Symbolism in Liturgical Art. N7825 .A7

A. Note concepts, people, event, etc.; look up the bibliographies discovered in these sources.

B. Search further on those authors discovered the above mentioned bibliographies;

C. Search further in journals mentioned in these bibliographies for more current scholarship when relevant.


  Digital Images


Index of Christian Art


  Print Images

Books and journals with color plates, photographs, and other visuals are excellent sources; these illustrations are usually done professionally and/or are commissioned works serving as the official records of the built works.

Courtauld Institute Illustration Archives
Oversize: NA5461 .C75.

More searches in the Catalog:

monuments and pictorial works

cathedral* and pictorial

"stained glass" and (catalog* or exhibition*)

"notre dame" and (photo* or exhibition*)


II. Reserves and Books

A. Use Library Catalogs for Reserves and Books

B. Sample Searches:

(note the search pattern; modify to your own needs)

1. Course Reserves


2. Tufts Libraries Catalog

3. BLC WorldCat (beyond Tufts)


Path of Discovery in the Catalog

1. Find a title/author (assigned readings/Course Reserves);

2. Note the descriptive language of the Catalog record.

3. Use that language in further searches


e.g. Click on subject/author in the record to see further results and related topics.



Murray, Stephen, 1945-


Notre Dame, Cathedral of Amiens: the Power of Change in Gothic.


Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.


Cathédrale d'Amiens.

Architecture, Gothic -- France -- Amiens.

Amiens (France) -- Buildings, structures, etc.


Some subject browses related to readings on Reserves:

Architecture, Gothic
Architecture, medieval
church architecture
Liturgy and architecture
Cistercian monasteries
Cistercian architecture
Sepulchral monuments



Appendix I. A Few Primary Sources at Tisch

Early Medieval Art, 300-1150; Sources and Documents. / [compiled by] Caecilia Davis-Weyer.
Oversize: N5975 .D3

This anthology collects sources relevant to an understanding of early medieval art: description of lost monuments, theoretical, technical, and other texts that reveal intentions of particular patrons and artists or esthetic attitudes of the literate public. It also contains a number of liturgical texts, describing ritual use of medieval artifacts.

Horn, Walter William and Ernest Born. The Plan of St. Gall: a Study of the Architecture & Economy of & Life in a Aaradigmatic Carolingian Monastery.

(foreword by Wolfgang Braunfels; a translation into English by Charles W. Jones of the Directives of Adalhard, 753-826, the Ninth Abbot of Corbie; and with a note by A. Hunter Dupree on the Significance of the Plan of St. Gall to the history of measurement.)

Special Colletions: BX2659.S32 H67

Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London. [DA675 .A3]

Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England). Some plates printed on both sides.

v. 1. Westminster Abbey -- v. 2. West London -- v. 3. Roman London -- v. 4. The City -- v. 5. East London.



Sample Search One:

1. Include name and location of the building when searching the Catalog, e.g., Notre Dame at Amiens in France:

"Notre Dame" and Amiens and architecture


2. Among the search results, a monograph on the building,

         Notre Dame, Cathedral of Amiens: the Power of Change in Gothic by Stephen Murray. book


3. Using the method as described in the left column, I follow the subject heading Architecture, Gothic in the book.

         One result is a thematic study (a book of chapters or essays related to each other with a sustained argument), book Artistic Integration in Gothic Buildings, which relates my building to others of its type/style with shared thematic Issues.


Sample Search Two:

Focusing on some architectural details:

Architecture and  Gothic and ornament

Discover more subject headings:

     Decoration and ornament architectural
     Decoration and ornament, Gothic


More keyword searches:

"stained glass" and (church* or cathedral*)

sculpt* and (church or cathedral or monast*) and medieval

If the sculpture, Luxuria in the Abbaye St-Pierre de Moissac interests me, I will explore all possible angles such as:

1. the symbolic significance of the animals, especially toads and snakes, e.g.,

grotesque* and art and medieval.

Or, medieval and art and (animal* or beast*)

2. compare with tamer luxuria images in Last Judgment scenes, as in the tympani of St. Foy and Santiago de Compostela, e.g.

sculptur* and "Santiago de Compostela"

3. contextualize the work within the larger sculptural program of the cathedral, e.g.,

Pierre and Moissac

4. Consider gender theory, regarding gender ambiguity, e.g.,

medieval and art and gender


Sample Search Three:

If my initial interest is about “the Great Mosque at Cordoba”, I might expand or focus my research this way:

1. Start with a simple keyword search on a specific building:

Mosque and Cordoba

2. Relate my building to others of its type—the architecture of mosques in Spain or in Spanish style:

Mosque* and architect* and (spain or spanish)

3. The Great Mosque at Cordoba (Spain) represents a synthesis of cultures, architectural styles and religious iconography, so I will explore the interaction of Muslims/Islam and the Christians /Christianity:

Mosque* and christian* and (spain or spanish)


III. Journal Articles

A. Subject Databases for Journal Articles

B. Research Tips"

C. Finding Full Text



1. and 2.


JSTOR and Project Muse

Two favorite collections of core journals of all disciplines.


3. Architecture (the Avery Index)


4. Art Full Text  


5. Arts & Humanities Citation Index  (Web of Science)

6. BHA: Bibliography of the History of Art = Bibliographie d'Histoire de l'Art (1973-2009)

7. International Medieval Bibliography (400-1500).

8. Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages & Renaissance (400 - 1700)

9. Index Islamicus (Islamic Studies) 

10. Women's Studies International  

When use GoogleScholar, set your Library Links to access Tufts full texts.



1. Search for Review Articles:

Review of books and other types of review articles in some major journals in a discipline summarize current state of research on a topic.

Examples of reviews of books and bibliographical essays:

Bork, Robert. "Gothic Architecture." Speculum 83:1 (2008), 177-179.


Thurlby, Malcolm. "The Formation of English Gothic: Architecture and Identity." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians  66:4 (2007), 527-528.


Anderson, G. K. "Designed for Prayer: A bibliographical Essay on Medieval Monasticism for Contemporary Designers and Gardeners." Cistercian Studies Quarterly 36: 4 (2001), 457-471.


Use review of books to discover the debates in the field that the reviewers identify.

Your specific topic may not be addressed in a specific book review. For example, if you chose to work on Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling, you might not be able to find a review on this work. Hence, you might look for articles that review books more generally in 16th-century Italian art, that cover patronage in Rome during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, that deal with influential Italian artists through history, etc. That is to say, work from the specific search on your topic to the more general areas of the field. This will make finding a book review easier.


2. More Articles like this "perfect" one


Search, in Arts and Humanities Citation Index, for the article you have read.

For example:

Sponsler, Claire. "On the Threshold of the Flamboyant- the 2nd Campaign of Construction of Saint-Urbain, Troyes." CLIO  21: 3 (1992), 265-283.
References: 23 Times Cited: 5

You can, then, look up, in the record, the 23 references that Sponsler cited for her article and, in turn, 5 articles that cited hers. The assumption is that these articles address related issues.


1. Click on the findIt@tufts button button in your search results screen to a window of three sequential options:

a. link to the digital full text when available;

b. link to a Library Catalog search for the print journal;

c. link to ILliad for requesting the article when the above two options are negative.

2. Search for a journal directly here:

a. Tufts Library Catalog (including e-journals)

b. Electronic journals list

c. Use ILliad to request your article, if Tufts does not have your journal.


IV. Writing and Citing

Writing Help

Citing Sources


A Short Guide to Writing about Art by Sylvan Barnet

Writing about Art & Art History (The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


Tufts Academic Resources Center -- Writing Tutors


Chicago Style Manual