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Film Studies Research Guide: Genres, Styles, Categories, Series

A guide to conducting research in Film Studies at Yale University, including key resources and crucial search strategies.

Film Genres, Styles, Categories and Series

What's Here

There are many films genres, styles and categories; this page provides guidance on how to find analyses and examples of them, selected reference and web resources for many genres.

Finding Books on Film Genres, Styles and Categories

The following are examples of Orbis subject headings for books about (and sometimes examples of) films of various genres and types.

  • Be aware that books about genres (etc) will receive these subject terms, but the movies themselves might not -- practices are irregular.
  • Notice that unlike other topics on cinema, many of these subject headings use the term films, not motion pictures.
  • "Genre" is sometimes also used to cover series, such as Star Wars, and films focused on particular characters, like James Bond.

A film genre isn't its theme or topic, but there may be overlap.  SEE ALSO Themes, Subjects & Characters.


Selected Reference Resources and Web Sites

From the Crawford Collection, Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives.

For additional web sites, please see: Web Portals



General Genre Resources


Films by Genre: 775 categories, styles, trends, and movements defined, with a filmography for each. Daniel Lopez. Jefferson, N.C. ; London: McFarland & Co., 1993.

SML Reference, PN1998 L63X 1993


The Ultimate Movie Thesaurus. Christopher Case. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1996.

SML Reference, PN1998 C323X 1996

Consists of two major sections. The first is a list of films by title, providing a one-sentence synopsis, its genre(s), and its topics or themes. The second section lists the genres and topics, and the films that provide examples.

UC Berkeley Media Resources Center Film Genre Bibliography

A source for bibliographies on many movie genres.

Specific Genre Resources

The following list only includes selected printed materials available at the Yale University Library.



Contemporary action cinema. Lisa Purse. SML Stacks, PN1995.9.A3 P87 2011

Documentary Films

Encyclopedia of the documentary film. Ian Aitken, editor. SML Reference, PN1995.9.D6 E53X 2006+

Film Noir

Historical dictionary of film noir. Andrew Spicer. SML Reference, PN1995.9.F54 S685X 2010
Film noir: the encyclopedia. Edited by Alain Silver. SML Stacks, PN1995.9.F54 F656 2010 Oversize
Encyclopedia of film noir. Geoff Mayer and Brian McDonnell. SML Reference, PN1995.9.F54 M39X 2007


A-Z of horror films. Howard Maxford. SML Reference, PN1995.9 H6 M3245X 1997

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Historical dictionary of science fiction cinema. M. Keith Booker. SML Stacks, PN1995.9.S26 B566X 2010.
Encyclopedia of science fiction movies.
C.J. Henderson. SML Reference, PN1995.9 S26 H38X 2001+

Silent Film

Silent films, 1877-1996: a critical guide to 646 movies. Robert K. Klepper. SML Reference, PN1995.75 K57X 1999


Brassey's guide to war films. Alun Evans. SML, Reference PN1995.9 W3 E78 2000+


Encyclopedia of westerns. Herb Fagen. SML, Reference PN1995.9.W4 F27 2003+

Director, Film Study Center