Judith Downie
Humanities Librarian
CSUSM Library
KEL 3424

Back to Film Resources Index

Films are frequently classified into a type of film, normally referred to as a 'genre'. Genres can be based on gender, nationality, time period, or purpose. There can even be genres based on production (films by women as opposed to about women.) Here are some tips on finding a variety of resources.

Sample Genres
Internet Sources


Sample Genres
There is no official list of genres, but there are commonly accepted categories used for films. Some films can be placed into more than one genre and a director may become known for a particular genre. Some of the more well-known genres are:

  • Horror
  • Documentary

  • Silent
  • Comedy
  • Western
  • Action
  • Martial Arts
  • Epic
  • World cinema
  • Musical

Of course, these can frequently be subdivided even further--Horror films can be narrowed to slasher, monster, psychological/suspense, and many more. A very specialized horror genre is the Dracula category, where one characters' portrayal is the focus of the genre.

To find materials, you can look through these catalogs:

  • CSUSM Library Catalog is what you can find in the Kellogg Library

  • Circuit is the joint catalog for CSUSM, SDSU, UCSD, and USD with delivery in 1-3 days for CSUSM users.

  • Melvyl searches the entire University of California catalog system and delivers in 5-10 days through Interlibrary Loan for CSUSM.

  • WorldCat searches a 'universe' of library catalogs and delivers in 5-10 days through Interlibrary Loan for CSUSM.

Useful Subject Terms
Can't think of terms to accurately describe your topic?  Library catalogs use specific subject headings to group related books together. 'Film' and 'adaptation' are such large topics and can be defined in multiple ways, you will want to think of ways to narrow it down, by title, director, genre, etc. Ask a librarian to help, or here are some examples to consider:

CSUSM Genre Search in the Library Catalog
Search the CSUSM catalog using the genre/form search field (instead of the usual keyword or subject search). Type in your desired genre to see the current list of films in our collection that have been identified in that category. 


The Research Databases at CSUSM will offer articles on film genres in general as well as specific films. When looking for articles on a particular film, the easiest way is to type the title of the movie into the database. Some databases do not offer full text of the articles. Use the Check SFX for Availability button to check our other resources for full text.

Project Muse
Full-text coverage for hundreds of scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics

Contains complete full-text back files (EXCEPT for the latest five years) of core scholarly journals in such areas as sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American studies, Asian studies and others.

Academic Search Premier
Covers a wide array of subjects with full text for nearly 1,850 scholarly journals, including more than 1,250 peer-reviewed titles.

Communication & Mass Media Complete
Provides abstracts and full text for more than 200 communication journals.

Includes abstracts of articles from critical literary and language journals. This is primarily concerned with the original work of literature, but you will find plenty of articles on adaptations here.

May also be useful

Available via EbscoHost: A comprehensive international database of psychology, covering the academic, research, and practice literature in psychology from over 45 countries in more than 30 languages.

Ethnic NewsWatch
Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.

Womens Studies International
Includes over 204,000 records drawn from a variety of essential women's studies databases.


Internet Sources
These may not be as scholarly as published journal reviews, so be aware of the credentials of the reviewer. Keep in mind when searching the internet that not all material will be scholarly and other search terms will be 'cinema' or 'film' rather than 'movie'.

Film Site: Film Genres
This site from by Tim Dirks offers quick overviews of a wide variety of genres.

GreenCine Movie Primers
Overviews of film movements and examples.

Introduction to Genre Theory
From England, this site offers a more scholarly discussion of genre.

IMDb Genre Browser
A list of genres from the Internet Movie Database

Specialized Sites

Asian Film Foundation
Interviews, trailers and more on films produced for and about Asia.

Black Film Center/Archive
Films by and about African Americans. Films must be viewed at the Indiana University Archive.

Information on documentary films and those who make them including a finding aid for the rarer titles. 

European Films
News and reviews of modern films produced since 2002.

A site devoted to the documentary genre, offering viewable documentaries on a wide variety of topics from the folk historian's view.

IFP: Independent Feature Project
Not everything is freely-available on this site as some areas are limited to members, but there is a great deal of support for the independent filmmaker.

Women Make Movies
An emphasis on women film makers and women's topics in film. Links provided to career and funding opportunities.