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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Global Popular Culture: Home

A guide to popular culture materials and scholarship from around the world.


watercolor map of the worldThe University of Illinois Library has a wealth of materials on popular culture from around the world. This guide will help you access physical and digital resources ranging from music recordings to streaming films to scholarship on popular music, TV, film, video games, sports, comics, and more. Be sure to visit the International Comics tab above to explore the Library’s extensive holdings in comics from around the world.

How to Use This Guide:

This page has search tips for finding popular culture materials in the library, and recommendations for resources on international popular culture generally. Each of the Area Studies pages has resources that focus on that region, with links for both University of Illinois resources and web resources. You’ll find video clips, streaming music, and plenty of scholarly materials.

Can’t find what you need?

Contact Mara Thacker, Global Popular Culture Librarian, any other Area Studies librarian, or use the Ask a Librarian chat box to your right.

Image: yas640 on Pixabay

Getting Started - Search Tips

General Popular Culture Search Terms

To get started searching in the library catalog or a database, use the general search terms below or the more specific topic terms in the sections to the right, and add the country, region, culture, or language you're looking for. In the library catalog, use the drop down menu to the right of the search bar to choose keyword or subject search. (A subject search will return more relevant results.)

  • Popular Culture
  • For example:
  • Popular culture -- China
  • Chinese popular culture
  • Popular Culture and Globalization
  • Mass media and culture

Refining Your Catalog Search

Looking for specific kinds of materials (e.g. films, sound recordings) in the catalog? Choose "Advanced Search" under the search bar and select the formats you want to limit your search to.


Use the links on the right side of the page of your search results to narrow what you see by language, topic, or region.

General Resources




Search Terms

For works about films and the film industry, add the country or nationality you're interested in to the following search terms and choose subject search:

  • Motion pictures
  • Motion picture industry

To find the films themselves, try these and select "movie" under the format filters to the right in the library catalog:

  • Feature films + country or language
  • Fiction films + country or language
  • Foreign films + country or language

Research Resources:


Search Terms

To find information about television programs and their production, use the following subject search terms, with the country or language you're looking for added to the term (e.g., Television programs -- Spain). To find DVDs and streaming shows, "movie" under the format filters to the right in the library catalog.

  • Television programs 
  • Television actors and actresses
  • Television adaptations
  • Television broadcasting
  • Cable television
  • Television series
  • Television producers and directors
  • Reality television programs

To find shows in particular genres, add the genre term to the beginning of the search term. For example:

  • Science fiction television programs
  • Detective and mystery television programs

Books to get you started:

Search Terms

Find materials on video games with these search terms (borrowed from the UGL Video Games Research Guide). Add countries and languages to your search term to find the information you want (e.g., Video games -- History -- Japan).

  • Computer games
  • Computer games -- Design
  • Electronic games
  • Internet games
  • Three-dimensional display systems
  • Video games
  • Video games and children
  • Video games -- History
  • Video games industry
  • Video games -- Psychological aspects
  • Video games -- Social aspects
  • Virtual reality 

Research Resources:


Search Terms

Find materials on popular music with these search terms, and add the country or language term you're interested in. While your likely to find more recent recordings on commercial streaming services, you can also find music recordings in the library catalog. Use the filters at the right of your search to limit your format to "music recording."

  • Popular music
  • Rock music
  • Heavy metal (music)
  • Rap (music)
  • Hip hop

You can find more information about researching music materials on the Music and Performing Arts Library's research guides page. Several are highlighted below.

Research Resources:


Search Terms:

For general information on sports around the world, use the subject search term "sports" and the country or language you are interested in. A search for a specific sport may return more relevant results. Related terms you might search include:

  • Athletics
  • Recreation
  • Games
  • Team sports
  • Individual sports
  • Athletes
  • Sports injuries
  • Sports spectators
  • Sports for women (use this construction for any women's sports, e.g. "basketball for women")

Research Resources:


Search Terms:

Use the following genre terms, plus country or language, to find science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genre materials in the Library catalog. Filter your search by using the links to the right side of the page to find films, books, and other materials.

  • Science fiction
  • Science fiction films
  • Fantasy literature
  • Fantasy fiction
  • Fantasy films
  • Horror fiction
  • Horror tales (use for horror literature)
  • Thrillers (motion pictures)
  • Suspense fiction
  • Detective and mystery stories
  • Detective and mystery films

For works about these genres, try the following constructions for your search terms. (Note: the term "science fiction" will return both history/criticism of science fiction works and the works themselves).

  • Fantasy in literature (motion pictures, television programs, etc.)
  • Horror in literature (etc.)

Research Resources:


Guide compiled by Sarah Sahn, Library and Information Sciences Graduate Student, in Spring 2018 as part of a practicum in the International and Area Studies Library.