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A Masterful Collection

This blog post is one of a series that highlights Media Services’ online streaming databases. More information and a full list of streaming databases is available here. Visit our department home page to discover the many ways we support teaching, research, and learning with both streaming and physical formats!

Among the many online streaming resources IU offers is Films On Demand’s Master Academic Collection, which houses over 17,000 titles in disciplines such as Anthropology, Communications, Criminal Justice & Law, History, Music and Dance, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and more.

Its home page, which can be accessed through the Media Services Online Streaming Databases webpage, has a familiar and easy-to-navigate array of films and videos arranged based on topic, producer, popularity, etc., much like Netflix. While educational, most of the videos seem far from purely academic or dry. Here, one can watch the entire Planet Earth II series, learn key leadership skills, and discover how soup cans and pop art changed the world.

Films On Demand home page. 18 March 2019,

Something unique to this resource is its variety of formats: it lists individual videos as well as video series, and it collects a variety of formats (from news segments and TED talks to full-blown documentary series). In the upper left hand corner, users will find a drop down menu that lists subjects, popular categories (such as Best of Ken Burns, Biographies, Exclusive to FOD, and Great Artists), and Featured Producers (including the American Museum of Natural History, Frontline, and PBS).

Featured this month are videos related to women and gender equality, in honor of International Women’s Day. Showcasing this resource’s attention to variety, the videos are quite varied–from a six-minute documentary about London’s domestic slaves to a series called “The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story.”

Films On Demand home page. 18 March 2019,

The internal search engine is also very easy to use. One can search based on format, subject, type, copyright dates, language, and producer. It is quickly apparent when searching for a specific topic that this site can isolate segments from longer videos that address what is being searched for, which is a unique feature that could be very useful for writing research papers or targeting interest areas without having to comb through an entire series.

Portrait of Allen Ginsburg and Bob Dylan by Elsa Dorfman. Wikipedia. 18 March 2019,

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, I typed “poetry” into the search box, and an astonishing 4,315 results were found. The first result was a series called “Poetry Heaven” that includes segments titled “Why We Write” and “The Lure of Poetry.” In addition to exploring questions of why we write, the videos feature contemporary poets–as well as Allen Ginsberg who has since passed away–reading and discussing their work. Poetry is as much an oral art as it is written, so videos like this are key to our full experience of the poem (if we are not lucky enough to hear Joy Harjo or Robert Hass read in person).

Scrolling down, there are short segments on how to appreciate poetry, an educational series that teaches literary terms such as rhyme and meter, and even an clip of Amiri Baraka in conversation with Maya Angelou about how Marxism influences his search for concrete reality in his poetry.

There are 105 search results for Maya Angelou herself, among them a recent feature-length film about her life and words, several hour-long interviews with Bill Moyers, and a video of Dr. Angelou reading at President Clinton’s second inauguration.

Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library. 18 March 2019,

All in all, Films on Demand’s Master Academic Collection is a stunning collection of videos and films on every subject imaginable. Whether you’re looking for a way to unwind from a long day, amp up your research, or just curious about the connections between Handel and hip-hop, this streaming resource has something for you. AL

Media Services staff member Anni Liu is a graduate student in Creative Writing at IU, published poet, and essayist.

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