WRTG: Rites & Rituals Research

IC Library Print & Media Resources

Recommended Subject Searches

(Click to run targeted Subject searches in the IC Library catalog)

Rites & Rituals:

Rites and ceremonies
   Also look for as a subheading: Aztecs--Rites and ceremonies
   Also look for the plural as a subheading: Islam--Rituals
Also look for  "Customs and practices" as a subheading: Judaism--Customs and practices
Also look for "Religion" as a subheading: Egypt--Religion
                                                      Indians of North America--Religion
                                                      Also see my research guide for Religion

Initiations & Altered States:
Birth customs
Childbirth--Religious aspects
Baptism--Biblical teaching
Puberty rites
Menstruation--Social aspects
Bar mitzvah
Circumcision Religious aspects Judaism
Female circumcision
Female circumcision--Africa
Initiations (in religion, folk-lore, etc.)
Initiations (into trades, societies, etc.)
Initiation rites
   Also see subdivisions: Initiation rites--Papua New Guinea
Life change events
Life change events--Religious aspects
Quests (Expeditions) in literature
Pilgrims and pilgrimages
Vision quests
Dream interpretation
   Also see my research guide for Native Americans
Spirit possession
Identification (Religion)
Experience (Religion)
Psychology, Religious
Mysteries, Religious
Dance--Religious aspects
Hallucinogenic drugs and religious experience
Sex customs
Dance--Social aspects
   Also see subdivisions by country or culture: Dance--Africa
   Also see subdivisions: Marriage--Japan
Marriage customs and rites
   Also see subdivisions: Marriage customs and rites--India
Divorce--Cross-cultural studies
Purity, Ritual
Blessing and cursing
Magic, Ancient
   Also see subdivisions by culture: Magic, Greek
Medicine, Magic, mystic, and spagiric
Fasts and feasts
Music--Religious aspects
   Also see subdivisions by religion: Music--Religious aspects--Islam
Music--Social aspects
   Also see subdivisiions by country: Music--Social aspects--Peru
Music--Psychological aspects
Sports--Social aspects
Sports--Sociological aspects
Sports spectators--Psychology
Body marking
Human sacrifice
Death--Cross-cultural studies
Death--Psychological aspects
Death--Religious aspects
   Also see further subdivisions: Death--Religious aspects--Buddhism
Death--Social aspects
   Also see my research guide for Death & Dying
Bereavement--Psychological aspects
Funeral rites and ceremonies
Mourning customs
Memorial rites and ceremonies
Future life
   Also see subdivisions: Future life--Christianity
Heaven--Comparative studies
Hell--Comparative studies

Self-Realization & Social Roles:
Life cycle, Human
Self-actualization (Psychology)
Identity (Psychology)
Women--Identity--Cross-cultural studies
Gender identity
   Also see subdivisions: Gender identity--South Asia
Sex role
Sex role--Cross-cultural studies
   Also see subdivisions: Sex role--China
Social role
Social structure
Group identity
Family--Cross-cultural studies
   Also see subdivisions: Family--Japan
   Also see subdivisions: Kinship--China
   Also see as a subdivision: Iroquois Indians--Kinship
Ancestor worship
   Also see my research guide for Identity Issues: Cultural & Personal

Time Passages:
Children--Cross-cultural studies
Identity (Psychology) in children
Self-perception in children
Child psychology
Adolescence--Cross-cultural studies
Identity (Psychology) in adolescence
Self-perception in adolescence
Adolescent psychology
Youth--Cross-cultural studies
Young adults--Cross-cultural studies
Maturation (Psychology)
Adulthood--Psychological aspects
Middle age
Middle age--Psychological aspects
Older people--Cross-cultural studies
Older people--Psychology

Survival & Survivors:
Survival after airplane accidents, shipwrecks, etc
Survival after airplane accidents, shipwrecks, etc.--Psychological aspects
Survival skills
Disasters--Psychological aspects
Disasters--Social aspects
Emergency management
Crises--Psychological aspects
Crisis intervention (Mental health services)
Natural disasters--Social aspects
Hazardous geographic environments
Disaster victims--Mental health
Resilience (Personality trait)
Risk-taking (Psychology)
Stress (Psychology)
Psychic trauma
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Violence--Psychological aspects
Victims of crimes--Psychology
Victims of terrorism--Psychology
War--Psychological aspects
Wounds and injuries--Psychological aspects

Of Myth and Men:
Myth--Psychological aspects
Myth in literature
Mythology  [subdivided by culture: Mythology, Celtic]
Mythology--Psychological aspects
Gods  [subdivided by culture/religion: Gods, Hindu]
Archetype (Psychology)
Folklore  [subdivided by culture/place: Folklore--Africa]
Oral tradition  [subdivided by culture: Oral tradition--Kenya]
Heroes in literature
Fairy tales--History and criticism
Storytelling--Religious aspects

IC Library Databases (Articles)

Recommended Databases

     General OneFile : is the most user-friendly of our comprehensive databases, covering almost any topic from a wide range of disciplinary angles and offering lots of full text.  Use the default Subject search to find the best subject heading for your topic (and when you find a good one be sure to look at the "Related Subjects" to see if there's something even better).  Among the Headings available here are Rituals, Initiation Rites, and Rites of Passage.
     When you settle on a subject heading, open the "Subdivisions" link below it.  Most General OneFile subject searches produce very large retrievals and the "subdivisions" help you narrow your search to a particular aspect: "Ethical aspects," "History," "Psychological aspects,"  "Religious aspects," and "Social aspects."
      If the best available subdivision is still too broad, open it and add your own Keywords in the "Search within these results" slot at the upper left.
     User Advisory: When first viewing your retrievals in General OneFile, note that you are seeing only the "Magazines" (popular articles) and must click on the tabs for "Academic Journals" (scholarly articles) or "News" (newspaper articles) to see those results.

      JSTOR : covers a wide range of scholarly journals in most disciplines, always beginning with the first issue of each one.  This provides 100% full text access to articles from not only the first half of the 20th century but even the second half of the 19th.  Be aware, however, that at the other end of the date range articles don't appear in JSTOR until at least 2-3 years after publication.
     JSTOR offers only a Keyword search of its complete full text, so retrievals are large, but the relevancy ranking does a good job of putting the strongest matches on the first few pages.  This relevancy ranking does not weigh date, however, and will display a mix of articles written decades apart.  So if your topic is time sensitive, be alert to publication dates.
     User Advisory: The academic journals covered here feature numerous book reviews, so it's a good idea to tic the "Article" limit below the search slots so you won't be overwhelmed by book reviews on your topic.  
     Also note the "Date Range" limit, which in a database with an archive this deep can be very useful.

     Academic Search Premier  Comprehensive subject coverage with considerable full text.  Note that there is a “Subject Terms” link just above the search boxes, allowing you to search the index of Subject Headings--often a good first stop for more efficient Subject searching whereby you are guaranteed that your topic is indeed a main subject of the articles retrieved.
     A good initial strategy in this database is to search a likely topic in the Subject Terms and when you find it “explode” the term by double clicking it--this brings up a list of related Subject terms.  You can check as many terms as you like before "adding" them to your search by AND-ing or OR-ing them together. Among the Subjects available here are Rites & Ceremonies, Ritual, Initiation Rites, Fertility Rites, and Puberty Rites.
     User Advisory: For any retrieved set of articles, there will be a box displayed on the left that will limit the articles to “Scholarly” journals—just check the box and click the “Update Results” button below.

     PsycINFO :  The American Psychological Association use their own Subject vocabulary (called "Descriptors"), so a visit to the "Thesaurus" below the search slots is a good idea. Among the Descriptors available here are Rites of Passage, Initiation Rites, Birth Rites, Death Rites, and Rites (Nonreligious).  If you find an article on exactly what you want, be sure to check the assigned "Descriptors" on the right of the citation for more ideas about useful search terms.  
     PsycINFO deals only with scholarly literature, much of it assuming a graduate-level understanding of the discipline.  But among these you may find interesting, accessible articles on your topic.  
     User Advisory: If what you're searching for are "journal articles only" in "English," it's a good idea to check those boxes (below the search slots).

     AnthroSource : A good full text resource for this topic, but only a Keyword search option.  Be sure to click on "Advanced Search" for a little more flexibility in how you can enter and combine search terms.

     ATLA religion database with ATLASerials : Our religion and theology database.  To browse the Subject Headings available here, click on "Indexes" above the search slots  and select "Subjects ALL"  from the drop-down menu. Among the Subjects here are Rites of Passage, Puberty Rites, Initiation Rites, and Ritual.

     ProQuest Research Library : is another comprehensive database with substantial full text.  Use the "Thesaurus" (above the search slots) to preview what Subject Headings are available.  Subect searching can be a more efficient way to search than with only Keywords, since it guarantees that the articles retrieved actually be about the Subject--not just use a particular word.  Among the Subjects here are Rites & Ceremonies, which you can combine with, for example, the name of a place, culture, age group, or religion.
     Note that to the right of your search results you can limit your retrieval by "Source Type" (including Magazines, Newspapers, Scholarly Journals),  "Document Type," (including Cover Story, Editorial, or Interview), "Document Feature" (including Photographs, Illustrations), and "Location."
     Above each set of articles you retrieve ProQuest will display related Subject searches to help either broaden or narrow your focus.
     User Advisory: ProQuest is fussy about entering Subject searches in the designated search slot. If your subject is a person, enter the name--last name first--in the "Person" slot; if a named group of any kind--Microsoft, the Catholic Church, Radiohead, the New York Mets--enter it in "Co/Org"; if a place enter it in "Location."

      SocINDEX with Full Text : As the name implies, an excellent database for social issues. Click on the "Subject Terms" link above the search slots to find which Subject Headings will work here. Double click any Heading for a list of broader, narower, and related Subject Terms.  And note that you can check the boxes to select as many Headings as you like and then "add to search using or" and run the search--all without even retyping the terms back on the home page. Among the Subjects here are Rites & Ceremonies, Birth Customs, Initiation Rites, Marriage Customs & Rites, and Funeral Rites & Ceremonies.

Contact Us

picture of Dr. Brian Saunders

Dr. Brian Saunders

Humanities Librarian
(607) 274-1198

Search Argos

Print Reference Resources

Note: Reference books are located in back right-hand corner as you enter the IC Library's main floor.

Encyclopedia of religion: The authoritative reference work in this field, look under “Rites of Passage” for a series of very substantive essays that cover “African Rites,” Oceanic Rites,” Mesoamerican Rites,” “Hindu Rites,” “ Jewish Rites,” “Muslim Rites,” and “Neopagan Rites.” Also look at the essay on “Ritual” immediately following.

Worldmark encyclopedia of cultures and daily life: First locate a continent/region of the globe and then the name of a people who inhabit it. For each people there will be discussion of beliefs, customs, ceremonies--and in some cases a section entitled “Rites of Passage.”

You might also wish to consult the Encyclopedia of Anthropology and the Encyclopedia of World Cultures.

Web Resources

Selected Web Sites

Note: Anthropology as a discipline is not yet well-served on the Web and there are no sites I recommend without reservation.  Expect a lack of organization, spotty coverage, and many broken links.
  • Anthropology.net: No real structure to browse here, so your best bet is to use the keyword "Search" slot to retrieve recent posts from the anthropological community.
  • World Values Survey: Political, social, and cultural data on the values and beliefs of over 80 societies worldwide--including the United States--since 1981. A great site, but it can be a challenge to navigate.  To get started try my World Values Survey: User Guide.

Web Search Engines

Google Advanced Search: When doing research on the Web, always use the Adanced Search version of Google. This not only provides more flexibility in entering search terms, but more importantly it allows you to target the Web domains that are likely to provide the most authoritative information.
   Under "Need More Tools?" you will find the "Search within a site or domain" slot. You may enter only one domain at a time, but it's worth targeting each of the three domains likely to supply the best information: colleges and universities (enter the "edu" tag), nonprofit organizations (enter the "org" tag), and the United States government (enter the "gov" tag).

Citation Help

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.