ICSM Communicating like The Simpsons: Understanding Springfield, Ithaca and the World

Communicating like The Simpsons

This guide supports the following seminar:

This course investigates the rhetorical dimensions of the longest-running sitcom in America, The Simpsons. Specifically, in this course students learn the ways in which signs and symbols influence us through a process called rhetoric. To this end, students or ‘Simpsonologists’ examine various episodes of the show to better understand the rhetorical processes by which the writers of the show seek to shape human thought and behavior. Consequently, the writers of The Simpsons aim to create alternative communicative practices in our society. Moreover, we pay special attention to the rhetoric of Simpsonology, that is, the way the Simpsons functions as both rhetoric and satire i.e., how it serves as corrective comedy to issues such as consumerism, nationality, sexuality, inequality, difference and political dysfunction.

Library Session Learning Objectives:
  1. Evaluate resources and identify those most appropriate to your information need (card sorting)
  2. ​Identify and combine keywords for a research topic  (brainstorm)
  3. Distinguish between the catalog, databases, and open web when selecting resources; Identify the best databases relevant to a topic (database search and reflection)

Information Types, Processes and Needs

Information types, processes and needs: in class exercise.  Cards will be distributed in class.

Recommended Databases

Best Bets
  • EBSCO Research Library 
    The EBSCO Research Library searches across nearly 40 EBSCO databases.  Searches across subject specific indexes on the EBSCO platform
  • ARGOS (library homepage search) Includes the library catalog (books, e-books, DVDs) and most library databases.
  • Ebook Central (formerly ebrary)  Over 109,000 full-text ebooks.  They can be found in ARGOS, but when you search ARGOS, you are not searching across the full-text of the books -- just the title, table of contents and subject headings. 
Subject specific databases:
Note:  You are searching across all of the following indexes at once when searching EBSCO Research Library.  Searching one at a time allows you to focus your search in one particular discipline.
  • Communication Source
    Communication Source offers worldwide full-text content pertaining to communication, linguistics, rhetoric and discourse, speech-language pathology, media studies and related fields and includes many unique sources previously not available. Content is derived from academic journals, conference papers, conference proceedings, trade publications, magazines and periodicals. 
  • ERIC (Ebsco interface)
    Bibliographic citations, abstracts, and some full-text for journal articles, research and technical reports, conference papers and proceedings, program descriptions, teaching guides, and lesson plans covering  all areas and levels of education.
  • GenderWatch
    GenderWatch is a full-text database containing 140 international publications plus reports, pamphlets, papers and conference proceedings devoted to women's and gender issues. It is a repository of materials on gender issues worldwide, the evolution of the women's movement, and the changes in gender roles over the last twenty years.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch
    Ethnic Newswatch is a full-text collection of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press. Contents include African American, Arab and Middle Eastern, Asian American, European, Jewish, and Native American publications, including the Spanish-language press.
  • PsycINFO
    Bibliographic citations and some full-text for journal articles, books, and book chapters. Subjects include psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines, such as medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, anthropology, business, and law. 1872-present.
  • SocINDEX with Full Text
    Comprehensive coverage of sociology and related areas of study: criminology & criminal justice, demography,ethnic & racial studies, gender studies, marriage & family, political sociology, religion, rural & urban sociology, social development, social psychology, social structure, social work, socio-cultural anthropology, sociological history, sociological research, sociological theory, substance abuse & other addictions and violence.
Fulltext Journal Collections (do not include the latest issues; smaller in scope)
  • JSTOR : For all aspects of classical Athens, this is probably our best research database. The journals covered are scholarly, and JSTOR is especially strong in History, Classics, Archaeology, Anthropolgy, Art, and Literature. It is also 100% full text. It does not cover the latest 2-3 years of journals. To prevent book reviews, check "Article" below the search slots.
  • Project Muse , Although a smaller database, it complements JSTOR. LIke JSTOR it provides 100% full text of mostly scholarly journals, but its coverage is entirely current--mainly spanning the last 10-15 years.  

Selected Web Sites

Find Books by Subject

Simpsons TV Show
Simpsons (Television program)

Oral Communication
Discourse analysis
Speech acts (Linguistics)
Figures of speech
English language--Rhetoric
English language--United States--Rhetoric
Persuasion (Rhetoric)
Rhetorical criticism
Persuasion (Psychology)
Influence (Psychology)​

Body language
Nonverbal communication

Interpersonal Communication
​Communication--Psychological aspects
Communication in families
Communication in small groups
Interpersonal communication
Conversation analysis
Communication--Sex differences
Language and languages--Sex differences
English language--Sex differences
English language--Gender
Sexism in language
Nonsexist language

Communication and Culture
Communication--Social aspects
Oral communication--Social aspects
Discourse analysis--Social aspects
Rhetoric--Social aspects
English language--Social aspects
English language--Social aspects--United States

Organizational Communication
Communication in organizations
Communication in management
Conflict management
Business communication
Business presentations
Communication in education
Communication in science
Communication in medicine
Lectures and lecturing

Speech Communication
Communication in politics--United States
Communication in politics--United States--History--20th century
Debates and debating
Forensics (Public Speaking)
Forensic orations
Forums (Discussion and debate)
Hate speech
Hate speech--United States
Oratory, Ancient
Oratory--United States--History
Public speaking
Political campaigns--United States
Political oratory
Political oratory--United States
Presidents--United States--Inaugural addresses
Propaganda, American
Public relations and politics
Rhetoric, Ancient
Rhetoric--Political aspects--United States
Rhetoric--Political aspects--United States--20th century
Sermons, American
Speeches, addresses, etc., American
Speeches, addresses, etc., American--History and criticism
Speeches, addresses, etc., Greek--History and criticism
Speeches, addresses, etc., Latin--History and criticism
Verbal self-defense

Mass Media
Radio talk shows--United States​
Mass media--Political aspects
Mass media--Political aspects--United States
Storytelling--Psychological aspects

Contact Us

picture of Cathy Michael
Communications Librarian
(607) 274-1293

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MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.


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Selected Ebook Central Titles

Strategic Communication Speech & Political Communication   Culture and Communication

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Guide credit

This guide was created by Dr. Brian Saunders, Humanties Librarian (retired 2017).