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Bowdoin College Library

Religion, Violence, and Secularization: Home

Religion 1015


Professor: Elizabeth Pritchard

Librarian: Carmen Greenlee

Need Help?

Carmen Greenlee

H-L Library, Rm. #111B
(207) 725-3286

Begin With Background Information

Reference Sources

The best place to begin your research can vary, but usually you will first want to gather background information on your topic.  Or, perhaps, you have a few topics in mind and just want to read a little bit about each one before making a choice.  Reference sources often are the best place to accomplish these things.  They're terrific at laying out basic information about a topic: a chronicle of its history; current status; key events; key people; and most importantly, a bibliography of additional sources.

Try searching this collection of online reference sources:

Type in words or short phrases like "Branch Davidians" or "Aum Shinrikyo."

Or try these hard copy sources in the reference section on the main floor of H-L Library:

  • Encyclopedia of Religion & War
    Main Ref. BL80.3.E53 2004
  • Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
    Main Ref.  BL65.P7 E53 2007
  • Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements
    Main Ref. BL98.E53 2006
  • Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World
    Main Ref. BP40.E525 2004
  • Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism
    Main Ref. BP40.D5313
  • New Encyclopedia of Islam
    Main Ref. BP40.G42 2008

Continue With Articles and Books

Once you have gathered background on your topic, you'll want to proceed to books and journal articles. Because articles tend to focus on a very narrow topic, it's best that your topic be sufficiently narrow in scope; otherwise you may be overwhelmed by the number of results when you conduct a search.  Reference sources above can help you narrow your topic.


Note: Don't underestimate the value of browsing the book stacks! After you have found a book on your topic, take a little time to glance at books to the left and right on the shelf; you may come across the perfect one! In addition, you may want to browse virtually in the Bowdoin catalog: look for "Tags" or "Similar Books" when you have a record on the screen.

Articles & Dissertations


  • Academic Search Complete
    This is a mult-subject database, that is, it covers journals in religion, philosophy, political science, and other areas related to your assignment.
  • ProQuest Dissertations
    Covers dissertations and theses from around the world from 1861 to the present day. Full text for most of the dissertations added since 1997 are included.  If full text is not included, a request will have to be made through the library's interlibrary loan service.

Note: These article databases do not always contain the full text of articles. If it is not available through the database, look for the "Check availability @ Bowdoin" link. This will tell you if we subscribe to the journal through another database. If not, then use the interlibrary loan request form.

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