Skip to Main Content

Boatwright Memorial Library

English 219: Introduction to Drama and Theater: Finding Background: Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Start by Thinking about Your Topic

Getting Started with Your Research

I recommend that you start by asking yourself concrete questions. As you gain a clearer picture of what you want to accomplish you can generate, and then refine, a plan of action.

  • What do I want to know? What do I need to do with that information/knowledge?
  • What  disciplines or subject areas are involved? Is this a question about literature? history? culture? psychology?
  • Am I asking a question that can be answered with fact based research, or is this really a values/opinion/beliefs question? If the latter, what do I need to change to make this a question I can answer on the basis of evidence?
  • Do I need background information on people, places, concepts, events? How does my topic fit into a larger system or structure?
  • Where and in what form are the results of their research likely to be published? Do I need specialized articles or would an overview in a book or encyclopedia be more helpful?
  • How should I interpret or evaluate the information I find? Are there things I don’t yet know that would change my interpretation or evaluation of these sources?
  • Remember, there are two layers of research:
    1) a broad search to discover resources and to read some background information
    2) specific searches for information once you've focused your topic.

Link to Narrowing Your Topic: 5 Quick Tips

Print Encyclopedias

Other Online Encyclopedias

Finding Books in Boatwright Library


To search for books use Books & More (Catalog). When dealing with a topic that can be used in many fields it is best to add a second word that describes your area of interest.  for example, "Pinter" and "Homecoming".

The best way to find books with criticism of a particular author is to type in the full name followed by "criticism."  For example: David Mamet criticism.

If you want to browse our collection of books on the theater, here are the relevant locations on Boatwright Level B 2:

NA 6820 - 6845 - Theaters
PN 1600 - 1988 - Drama
PN 1720-1861 - Drama (history)
PN 2055-2073 - Acting
PN 2080 - Audition Scenes and Monologues
PN 2085 - Stage Management
PN 2091 - 2096 - Stage Design (Scenery, Lighting, Sound, etc)
PN 2100 2266 - Theater History
PN 2266 - American Theater
PN 2270.A35 - African-American Theater
PN 2270.F45 - Feminist Theater