English - Fort Wayne

About Stranger Things

Stranger Things is a Netflix series set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the early 1980s. The series began airing in 2016 and is planned to run for four or five seasons. It was created by the Duffer brothers, who pay tribute, in ways large and small, to the 1980s movies and culture that inspired them. This page organizes resources relevant to researching themes in the series, which form the basis for assignments in a special section of ENGL 112. 

Reference Resources


Search tips:

You will get better results if you search key words, not sentences. Always consider broader terms and synonyms. For example, search "conspiracy theories" to get background information on the MKUltra program. Put short phrases like this into quotes.

Because Stranger Things is so recent, you may need to consider credible sources as well as scholarly/peer reviewed articles. You can turn the limiter for scholarly/peer reviewed off in the library databases.

Use the date limits: for example, you can set the beginning date to January 1, 2016 the year when the show began production

Look for Full Text indicators in your search results, or set this as a search limit. Articles without full text can be requested using the Interlibrary Loan form on the Request Materials tab of the Library webpage.

Recommended databases for ST topics are:


Because Stranger Things is so recent, you will find mostly books about related topics and concepts in the library databases. Recommended databases for ST topics (including the CIA, history, literary and film criticism, nostalgia, psychology, and small-town sociology): 

The 1980s

Dungeons and Dragons

Search keywords: "Dungeons & Dragons"; SUBJECT="Fantasy games"

Government Secrets

Search keywords: conspiracies; "conspiracy theories"; brainwashing; "science and state"

Nuclear Proliferation

Paranormal Phenomena

Search keywords: Paranormal; Parapsychology

Indiana "Upside Down"

Search keywords: Indiana miscellanea; "small town" "united states"; SUBJECT=indiana guidebooks

Google Books

Google Books offers limited previews of some books. Stranger Things-related books include: 

Stranger Things, Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion (Random House: 2018). Google Books preview

Of Dice and Men:The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It. By David M. Ewalt (Simon and Schuster: 2013). Google Books preview

Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series. Edited by Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr. (McFarland: 2018). Google Books preview

Stranger Things: The Other Side [Based on Will's time off-screen in the Upside-Down]. By Jody Houser, illustrated by Stefano Martino and Keith Champagne. (Dark Horse Comics: 2019). Google Books preview


Citing Sources

Academic writing requires that you cite the sources you use, so that your readers can judge if you have used credible information. When you use in-text citations, readers also can see clearly what ideas are your original content. Writers want to write in their own words and avoid plagiarism. 

The preferred style for citations in English papers is MLA, defined by the Modern Language Association. The preferred style for psychology and sociology papers is APA. These styles also define the overall layout of your paper.

The guides linked below offer more details.