A lot of you may already have an artist in mind who has inspired you and meets the assignment requirements (work creates self-representation). If not, here are some tips.
1) Talk to group members and your professor to help brainstorm ideas!
2) If you really feel stuck start by thinking of a genre or two you are particularly interested in. Visual arts? Music? Dance? Literature? Then maybe even try to narrow it down to a sub-genre. Are you more interested in painting or sculpture? Pop, rap, rock, etc.? Poetry, short fiction, novels? You can always generate some ideas by Googling (e.g., feminist dancers/choreographers, empowered female rappers, empowering female songs), but if you do pay special attention to Step 2 below!
A lot of you will have good luck finding what you need online, but there are also some library databases that might be useful.
For the texts of novels, poetry, short stories, and other literary genres search the library catalog.
The amount of scholarly research done on artists of all types varies greatly. Generally, there will be more scholarly research on artists who are well-known in their field, have been around for a while, and have an established body of work, but there are exceptions to this rule!
There are two main approaches you can take for your research:
(see the box below for suggested databases for each!)
How much you find for each category will vary greatly. Some of you may have an easy time finding substantial scholarship on your artist and her art. Others may find very little. If you don't find much on your artist, shift toward researching self-representation in the genre or in art more broadly.
Self-representation is going to be an obvious search term for both general and artist/genre specific searches. Also consider using feminist, empower/empowered/empowering, and maybe even just representation as terms that might bring up articles that are on topic, but don't use the term self-representation in the title. For your particular artist, adding search terms like race, gender, class, politics, or sexuality may also bring back useful articles.
For example, here are some searches I did in the Library Search tool and the number of results for each:
Beyonce self-representation-- 37 scholarly journal articles.
Beyonce feminist -- 450 scholarly journal articles.
Beyonce race -- 750 scholarly journal articles!
Beyond the Gender Studies Database, the Library Search tool would be the next step in finding this type of article, as well as books and book chapters. Many of the sources found here will be from different disciplines, so be aware that some may present a very different theoretical perspective from what you are studying in class!
Here is a box to access Library Search:
For some types of artists we have specialized databases that will make a good starting point. For all types of artists, Library Search is the place to go if you still need more sources after using the specialized databases.
Note on Library Search: Library Search brings back both scholarly and popular sources. While your professor may welcome additional sources that are popular (magazine or news articles, websites, documentary videos), you have a requirement for a minimum of 5 scholarly sources. So make sure you are either looking at books or scholarly/peer reviewed journals for those. You can limit to both on the left-hand side.
For theater and dance, there is no specialized scholarly database for research on dancers, actors, directors, choreographers, set designers, etc. So for those types of artists you need to go straight to Library Search for scholarly sources.