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FFS 232: Shoppers in Paradise


About this guide

The resources in this guide are recommended starting points for research projects related to the cultural context of the novel Au Bonheur des dames (The Ladies' Paradise) by Emile Zola. 

In addition to the resources suggested below, the best starting point, especially when you're in the exploratory, background gathering, and topic narrowing stage of your project is Library Search, a database that contains most of the material in the Vassar Library collections.

  • Consult the Databases A-Z list to find resources relevant your broad subject area. For example, if you're interested in a specific theme, such as religion, in the work you're researching, you might want to check whether there is a religion database that will be helpful.
  • If you know the title of a journal, newspaper, or magazine and you're wondering if Vassar has access to it, use our Journals tool

Journal articles, Books, and Book Chapters About Your Topic

Primary sources online

Evaluating and Using Sources

BEAM stands for: Background, Exhibit, Argument, Method.

  • Background: using a source to provide general information to explain the topic. For example, the use of an article on the bourgeoisie of fin-de-siecle Paris.
  • Exhibit: using a source as evidence or examples to analyze. This could include documents from a digitized or published archival collection, such as a newspaper article obtained from Gallica, or a photograph of 1880s Paris included in a book published in 2023.
  • Argument: using a source to engage its argument. For example, you might use an article claiming that Zola's sympathies for the working class were superficial to support or provide a counterpoint to your own view of Zola's commitments to justice and socialism.
  • Method: using a source’s way of analyzing an issue to apply to your own issue. For example, reading articles that use primary sources such as visual culture including advertisements or paintings, can help you in structuring your paper and provide rhetorical examples for using and citing primary sources and drawing connections and conclusions from evidence.

A source may serve more than one function. For instance, a journal article could provide you with background information, exhibits, argument, and method. However, some sources are focused on a single function. For example, an encyclopedia entry is likely to only serve as background information.

Citation: Bizup, Joseph. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” Rhetoric Review 27.1 (2008): 72-86. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 23 March 2023.

Hunter College Libraries, "How to Use a Source." Web. 23 March 2023.