James H. Thomason Library

Theatre 220 Guide: History of the Theatre I
Reference Sources


Farceurs Français et Italiens,
detail (1670)
by Cl. Giraudon - Comédie-Française

  Print Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
  eBook Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
  Style Guides
Locating Books
  EBSCO eBook Collection
  PASCAL, WorldCat
Locating Articles & Criticism
  Reference Sources & Criticism
  Articles, Essays, Book Chapters
  Journal Finder
  Key Journals
Internet Resources
  General Sources
  Special Collections & Manuscripts

Get Help

   denotes recommended resource

  denotes library subscription

See also the Shakespeare Guide for more info

Reference Sources:    

Print Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Companions

  back to top


For background information and definitions refer to the following library reference works:

500 Plays: Plot Outlines and Production Notes, Drama Book Publishers, 1988.
Main Level, Reference: R 809.2 D569F

  All Things Shakespeare: An Encyclopedia of Shakespeare's World , Greenwood Press, 2002.

Main Level, Reference:  R 822.33 Ol8A [2 vols]

Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students, Scribner, 1998.

Main Level, Reference: R 938.003 An22A [4 vols]

Ancient Writers: Greece and Rome, Scribner, c1982.

Main Level, Reference: R 880.09 An22A  [2 vols]

The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Upper Level, Circulating Collection: 792.09420902 C144C

The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Main Level, Reference: R 792.095 C144C

A Companion to the Medieval Theatre, Greenwood Press, 1989.
Main Level, Reference: R 792.0902 C738C

Dictionary of the Literature of the Iberian Peninsula, Greenwood Press, 1993.

Main Level, Reference: R 860.03 D561D [2 vols]

Covers literature by authors born in Spain or on the Iberian peninsula since the 10th century -- prose, poetry, drama, as well as historical, religious, cultural and philosophical writings.

Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Scribner, c1982-c1989.

Main Level, Reference: R 909.07 D561D [13 vols + suppl]

Dictionary of the Theatre, Terms, Concepts, Analysis, University of Toronto Press, 1998.         
Main Level, Reference: R 792.03 P288D

Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature, ABC-CLIO, c1998.

Main Level, Reference: R 803 En19E2

Check the Index for theatre.

Encyclopedia of German Literature, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, c2000.

Main Level, Reference: R 830.90003 En19E [2 vols]


Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition, Fitzroy Dearborn, c2000.
Main Level, Reference: R 938.003 En19E [2 vols]

Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000.

Main Level, Reference: R 909.07 En19E [2 vols]

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, Scribner's, 1999.

Main Level, Reference: R 940.21 En19E [6 vols]


Encyclopedia of Society and Culture in the Medieval World, Facts On File, 2008.

Main Level, Reference: R 909.07 En19E2  [4 vols]

"Comprehensive A-Z coverage spanning time from the fall of Rome in 476 to the start of the Renaissance in 1500. Each entry includes a discussion of the topic from the perspective of the following centers of civilization: Africa, The Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and The Islamic World." Includes entry on drama and theater, clothing and footwear, adornment.


A Historical Dictionary of German Theatre, Scarecrow Press, 2006.
Main Level, Reference: R 792.0943 G765H

A Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre, Scarecrow Press, 2006.
Main Level, Reference: R 792.0952 L536H

Historical Dictionary of Modern Japanese Literature and Theater, Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Main Level, Reference: R 895.609 M615H

Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, Indiana University Press, c1986-c1998.

Main Level, Reference: R 895.109 In2I [2 vols]

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama, McGraw-Hill, 1984.                  
Main Level, Reference: R 809.2 M178M [5 vols]



Medieval England: An Encyclopedia, Garland Publishers, 1998.

Main Level, Reference: R 942 M468M

Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, Garland Publishers, 1995.

Main Level, Reference: R 944.003 M468M

The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Main Level, Reference: R 840.3 Ox2O2


Reference eBooks: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Companions   back to top


Search these individual eBooks or try the Reference collections at the bottom of this section:

Cambridge Guide to Theatre [CREDO Reference], Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Also available in print, Main Level, Reference: R 792.0321 C144C

Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature [Oxford Reference Onliine], Oxford University Press, 2003.

Also available in print, Main Level, Reference: R 880.9001 H837O (not concise, 1989)

Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre [Oxford Reference Online], Oxford University Press, 2002.        
Also available [not concise] Main Level, Reference: R 792.03 Ox2O [1983]


A Dictionary of Literary Symbols [CREDO Reference], Cambridge University Press, 2007.
The first dictionary of symbols to be based on literature, rather than "universal" psychological archetypes, myths, or esoterica. Concentrates on English literature, but its entries range widely from the Bible and classical authors to the twentieth century, taking in American and European literatures.  
Earlier print ed. available, Main Level, Reference:
R 809.915 F373D [2000]



Dictionary of Shakespeare [CREDO Reference], Peter Collin Publishing, 2000.

A dictionary covering the plays, poems, characters and background to Shakespeare's works. The dictionary also includes terms used in the theatre and stagecraft, as well as historical references and details on the Elizabethan historical and social period.

Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature [CREDO Reference],Greenwood Press, 2000.

A comprehensive guide to medieval literature. While the volume is devoted primarily to the literature of medieval England, its multicultural scope also encompasses Islamic, Mongolian, Celtic, Hispanic, Italian, Russian, and Germanic works.

The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance [CREDO REference], Market House Books, 1987.

The period of transition from medieval to modern times, the Renaissance roughly spans the period from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries and changed forever the course of Western history. This eBook covers the broad range of events, people, ideas and movements that represent this era.

Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations and Footware Throught the Ages [Gale Virtual Reference Library], Thomson/Gale, 2004.
Provides a broad overview of costume traditions of diverse cultures from prehistoric times to the present day. Examines more than 430 items of human decoration and adornment, ranging from togas to turbans, necklaces to tennis shoes. Explores how and why items were created, the people who made them, and their uses.

Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of World Literature [GVRL], Gale, 2009.

Covers world authors from many periods and genres, building an understanding of the various contexts -- from the biographical to the literary to the historical -- in which literature can be viewed.

"Identifies the significant literary devices and global themes that define a writer's style and place the author in a larger literary tradition as chronicled and evaluated by critics over time."


Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization [Oxford Reference Onliine], Oxford University Press, 2003.

Also available in print, Main Level, Reference: R 913.38 Ox2O 1998

Oxford Companion to English Literature [Oxford Reference Online] Oxford Univ. Press, 2006.
Also available Main Level, Reference: R 820.9 Ox2O

Oxford Companion to World Mythology [Oxford Reference Online] Oxford Univ. Press, 2005.

Includes essays on the world's major mythological traditions along with retellings of better-known myths, and entries on mythological types, motifs, and figures and related subjects.

Reference eBook Collections:


CREDO Reference Collection

Search entire collection of 100 e-book encyclopedias.

Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection

Search entire collection of Oxford companions.

Sage eReference Collection
Search entire collection of e-encyclopedias dealing with social issues.
Many theatre topics are covered in this large social science collection, however no encyclopedias in this collection deal specifically with the theatre. 

Gale Virtual Reference Library [GVRL]

Reference collection of Gale e-books covering a variety of disciplines

Gale World History in Context
[formerly known as History Resource Center-World] Try a search for "Renaissance life"


Biography   back to top

Literature Resource Center [Thomson Gale]
Search here for your playwright or use advanced search criteria to compile a list of authors by type. Contains biographical information from print sources at PC including Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, American Writers, British Writers and thirteen Scribner print sources.
Follow tabs at top to literature criticism, articles, work overviews, and more!


Dictionary of Writers and Their Works [Oxford Reference Online], Oxford University Press, 2003.
British literature from the fifteenth-century to the present including major American and Commonwealth writers.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998.
Main Level, Reference: R 920.02 En19E [17 vols]
Alphabetically arranged long essays on reputable personalities throughout history who have made great contributions to human culture and society.

European Writers
, Scribner, 1983-1991.                                                     
Main Level, Reference:
R 809.894 Eu74E [vols 1-4]
Volumes arranged chronologically from Medieval period to the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment to the 20th Century. The last volume is an index to the set. Lengthy coverage of each author.

The Female Dramatist: Profiles of Women Playwrights from the Middle Ages to Contemporary Times, Facts On File, 1998.
Main Level, Reference: R 809.2082 P258F

Search authors/playwrights individually as subject or click subject headings below to browse examples of author biographies held by Thomason Library:

More info on searching THOMCAT below
  Dramatists--English--Early Modern 1500 1700--Biography  
  Dramatists--French--17th Century--Biography  


Style Guides   back to top


Humanities: Documenting Sources [Research and Documentation Online], Bedford/St. Martins, 2003.


MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., Modern Language Association, 2009.
Main Level, Reference Collection or Ready Reference Shelf:  R 808.027 M72M


Writing Center, Presbyterian College
Citation styles, writing guides, and scheduling an appoingment with a tutor.




Locating Books    
THOMCAT   back to top

Use the online catalog to locate books and ebooks in Thomason Library. You can search by author, title, keyword, or subject.

  • Search for a person, as AUTHOR or SUBJECT, with last name, first name:              
  Moliere [as AUTHOR] written by him  
  Moliere [as SUBJECT] written about him  
  • SUBJECT searching requires use of Library of Congress subject headings. The terms below are examples of subject headings related to history of the theatre and may include the country of origin, era, literary genre, or the material type:

THOMCAT subjects

  Historical Drama--English--History And Criticism  
  Mysteries and miracle-plays  
  Shakespeare, William 1564-161--Technique  
  Theater History  
  Theater History--Medieval 500-1500
  Theater Greece


PASCAL subjects

  Commedia Dell'arte   

Mysteries and miracle-plays

  Theater History--Medieval 500-1500
  Theater Greece 94

Subject searching is an effective and precise method of searching the catalog, however, KEYWORD searching has benefits, also.

  • Try a KEYWORD search if you are unsure of the exact title or the correct subject heading to use. Search using two or three of the most significant words from the title or subject you are trying to find. Place phrases in "quotation marks."

  • Connect words with AND, OR, NOT to focus your search.
  • Try truncation at the end of a word stem to retrieve singular, plural, and other variations of the word.  Use an asterisk (*) to truncate from 1 to 5 characters. Use a double asterisk (**) to include word endings with an unlimited number of characters.
KEYWORD Searching Tips

· Use AND between words to narrow your search:
church AND drama

· Use OR between words to expand your search and
group words with parentheses:
(miracle OR myster*) AND play*

· Add * to the root of a word to truncate or expand
a term:
theat* = theater, theatre, theaters, theatrical

Try KEYWORD searching in THOMCAT, the PASCAL
catalog & library databases



EBSCO eBooks has acquired NetLibrary.

THOMCAT searches will provide links to many EBSCO eBooks, as well as to titles in
library Reference eBook collections.


Example of a EBSCO eBook in THOMCAT:

Shakespeare, the Queen's Men, and the Elizabethan performance of history [electronic resource], Brian Walsh, Cambridge University Press, 2009.


PASCAL Catalog

If you need books in addition to those found at Thomason Library, search PASCAL for books in other academic libraries in SC. Using PASCAL Delivers, you can locate and order books online for delivery within 3-4 working days.


PASCAL Catalog searching is similar to searching in THOMCAT. An added BONUS in THOMCAT is a
pass-through from search results in THOMCAT
to the same search results in PASCAL
with one click on the PASCAL icon like the red box on the right.

The pass through is available on any search at any level:

  • A PC book you need is checked out? Click the PASCAL icon for other copies available in SC.

  • Need more items on a subject? PASCAL items on that subject are just a click away.


This service for current PC students, faculty, and staff is a project of PASCAL- Partnership Among SC Academic Libraries. Borrowers will be notified by e-mail when requested items arrive at Thomason Library. Click here for searching and ordering tips.



A catalog of books and materials at libraries worldwide. Try searching here to find ALL books available on a topic. Materials available at Thomason Library are highlighted and others can be borrowed through ILL or searched in PASCALCAT.

Interlibrary Loan

ILL is available to PC students, faculty and staff in order to borrow resources from other libraries. Check link for instructions.


Locating Articles & Criticism:    
Reference Sources & Criticism   back to top

Literature Resource Center
[Thomson Gale]
Biographical, bibliographical and contextual information from the Contemporary Authors and Dictionary of Literary Biography databases, as well as full-text criticism from the Contemporary Literary Criticism Select database. Contains full-text journal articles from more than 250 literary journals, critical essays, author biographies, and definitions of literary terms from Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature.

Drama Criticism, Gale Research, 1991- .  

Main Level, Reference: R 809.2 D79D [16 vols]

Included in Literature Resource Center above.

Critical Survey of Drama, Salem Press, 2003.                                 
Main Level, Reference: R 822.009 C869C [8 vols]   

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale Research, 1973-2005.
Main Level, Reference: R 809.04 C676C [194 vols] Included in Literature Resource Center above.



Articles, Essays, Book Chapters   back to top

Academic Search Premier - Humanities [EBSCOhost]
Search this subset of full text peer-reviewed humanities journals indexed in Academic Search Premier.

MLA International Bibliography  [EBSCOhost]
Indexes critical literary and language scholarship and provides access to journals and serials published worldwide, as well as books, essay collections, working papers, proceedings, dissertations, and bibliographies. Nearly 45,000 records are added annually.

Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Indexes articles, books and essays dealing with years 400-1700 (Middle Ages and Renaissance), Iter Italicum, International Directory of Scholars, Scholars of Early Modern Studies, International Directory of Renaissance and Reformation Associations and Institutes, Baptisteria Sacra: An Iconographic Index of Baptismal Fonts. Limited full-text.

Arts & Sciences Collections I, II, & III contain an archive of over 350 full-text journals which are searchable through JSTOR or accessible through Journal Finder. The collections include journals in the humanities. This archive covers the full run of journals from the first issue of volume one; however, the most current three to five year issues of the journals are not available as specified by the publishers in their agreements with JSTOR.

Project MUSE Basic Undergraduate Collection  
Current and recent volumes of 112 core journals in the humanities and social sciences.

Journal Finder   back to top

Journal Finder provides access to PC's electronic and print journals,

magazines, and newspapers in one convenient location.

Your search results in PC article databases contain many direct links to article full text.

If no direct links are shown, follow the "Check Journal Finder" link to find full-text (follow steps 1-6 below).




Example of an article citation:


Chitra Ragavan, Terror on the streets,

U.S. News & World Report 137.21 [vol.issue]
(Dec 13, 2004): p 20.


If you already have an article citation and are trying to find text for a specific article,

click the link below and follow the steps to determine whether full text

is available for the article:

  • Note the journal title & date OR volume / issue you need before following the Journal Finder link.
  • The default search is Journals by Title in Full Text. Type the title of the journal or magazine in the box below (example: U.S. News & World Report).
  • You may need to select your title from the results. Click on the title you seek.
  • Results for your title include up to three categories: Full Text Resources in your library (in print), Full Text Resources Online, and Indexing Only (not full text).
  • Note the dates available for that journal. If "Full Text Online" is not available, look under "Full Text in your Library" - we may have what you need in print.
  • Choose, year and issue OR volume and issue, then look through contents of that issue for the article you need. Articles are usually listed in page number order and are available in HTML or PDF format.



Thomason Library subscribes to thousands of eJournals; however, full text is not available for every journal. Some journal publishers embargo or withhold current issues so that subscribers will continue to purchase print subscriptions.


Key Journals   back to top


Search journal title in Journal Finder to determine availability at Thomason Library:

American Drama
Original studies of American dramatic literature from colonial to contemporary times, with greater emphasis given to the period of the twentieth century to the present.

Comparative Drama
A scholarly journal devoted to studies international in spirit and interdisciplinary in scope. Essay submissions are invited from scholars in all areas of drama.

Early Theatre: A journal associated with the records of Early English Drama
A peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles, reviews, and notes on medieval and early modern drama and theatre history, with a particular focus on records pertaining to actors, theatres, music, dance, and entertainment of all kinds. Includes research in medieval or early modern drama and theatre history, rooted in the records and documents of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This journal is indexed in Gale's Academic OneFile with full-text from July 2001 to the present. Journal web site also has a search function.

Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England

International volume containing essays & studies dealing with medieval & early English drama.

New Theatre Quarterly

Provides a vital international forum where theatrical scholarship and practice can meet and where prevailing dramatic assumptions can be subjected to vigorous critical questioning. It shows that theatre history has a contemporary relevance, that theatre studies need a methodology and that theatre criticism needs a language. The journal publishes news, analysis and debate within the field of theatre studies.

Renaissance Drama

Upper Level: 822.900205 R29R [37 vols]

The essays in each volume explore traditional canons of drama, the significance of performance (broadly construed) to early modern culture, and the impact of new forms of interpretation on the study of Renaissance plays, theatre, and performance. Published once annually.

Shakespeare Survey

Upper Level: 822.33 N545S [61 vols]

A periodical in book format with criticism and interpretation. Shelved here also a print index to the set: Shakespeare Survey: A Sixty-Year Cumulative Index, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Theatre History Studies
Critical, analytical, and descriptive articles on all aspects of theatre history since 1981.

Theatre Journal
Drawing contributions from noted practitioners and scholars, Theatre Journal features social and historical studies, production reviews, and theoretical inquiries that analyze dramatic texts and production.

Theatre Topics
Focuses on performance studies, dramaturgy, and theatre pedagogy with concise and timely articles on a broad array of practical, performance-oriented subjects, with special attention to topics of current interest to the profession.

See also English/Theatre 350: Shakespeare Course Guide - Key Shakespeare Journals


Internet Resources:   back to top
General Theatre Sources   back to top


The Art of Ancient Greek Theatre [The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA]

Developed as part of an exhibit that ran from August 2010 to early January 2011, the site includes three different, vitally important features: an images section (picturing the exhibited items), an interactive map, and a papyrus fragment (pictured and spoken). One can zoom in on the papyrus itself, and an audio recording in ancient Greek (as well as English) provides the rare opportunity to hear ancient Greek spoken. Well organized, quick, efficient, and easy to navigate, this impressive site provides visitors with an excellent way to enhance study of Greek theater and to marvel at the artwork connected to ancient Greek theater. CHOICE Reviews Online 2/2011

The Costumer's Manifesto [Tara Maginnis, PhD]
Costume history, stage costumes, accessories, costume and textile museums worldwide, shop equipment, vintage clothing, and more.

Internet Theatre Database  (ITDb)  [Keith Scollick]

Called the "unofficial history of theatre," this site has been completely opened up to anyone and everyone to add content. Search a play in the database and get unofficial information on recent productions: theatre, artistic/production staff, origional broadwas cast, comments, and more.

Justin’s Drama & Theater Links  [Justin Cash, Head of Drama at Avila College, Melbourne, Australia]

Theatre History section provides links to theatre-related websites from around the world. 

Introduction to Literature – Drama [Bedford/St. Martin’s]                                     
Numerous links to information on playwrights.


Special Collections and Manuscripts   back to top

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Bartleby.com], Oxford University Press, 1914.

Project Gutenberg
Producer of literary eBooks in the public domain.

Script Archive [TheatreHistory.com]

Choose from full-length, one act, 10 minute plays, or monologues.


Get Help   back to top
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