James H. Thomason Library

Theatre 2103 : African American Theatre


Amiri Baraka. 1959. Burt Ginn, photographer.

ARTstor Image Database.

Locating Reference Sources
  Dictionaries, Encyclopedias in print
  eReference Collections
  Biographical Sources
  MLA Style
Locating Books
  PASCAL Catalog
  EBSCO eBook Collection
Locating Articles & Criticism
  Journal Article Databases
  Journal Finder
Get Help



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Reference Sources    

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Guides, in print

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African American Writers, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
Main Level, Reference: R 810.9896073 Af83A [2 vols]

Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Main Level, Reference: R 792.0973 C144C

The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama.  Gabrielle H. Cody and Evert Sprinchorn, editors. Columbia University Press, 2007  2 vols.

Main Level, Reference:  R 809.2 C723C

Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 1998.   
Main Level, Reference: R 016.81254 W671C

Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays : A Biographical Directory and Dramatic Index, Greenwood Press, 1988. 
Main Level, Reference: R 812.5409 P442C

Contemporary Dramatists, St. James Press, 1973, 1988, 1999.
Main Level, Reference: R 822.91409 V786C

Contemporary Women Dramatists, St. James Press, 1994.
Main Level, Reference: R 822.91409 C767C


Critical Survey of Drama, Salem Press, 2003.

Main Level, Reference: R 822.009 C869C [8 vols]

Vols 7 [p. 3375-African American Drama] & 8 have essays on drama in America, Britian, Europe, World, different genres, and techniques. Index to playwrights and works in all vols is found in Vol 8. Check here for individual playwright criticism.

Early Black American Playwrights and Dramatic Writers: A Biographical Directory and Catalog of Plays, Films, and Broadcasting Scripts, Greenwood Press, 1990.
Main Level, Reference: R 812.009 P442E

Fifty Southern Writers after 1900: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, Greenwood Press, 1987.

Main Level, Reference: R 810.9975 F466F2

Includes information on Green and Wright. A-Z listing.

Masterpieces of African-American Literature, Harper Collins, 1992.

Main Level, Reference: R 810.9896073 M393M 

Includes information on plot & characters, analysis, and critical context for literary works by African Americans.

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

Modern Black American Poets and Dramatists, Harold Bloom, ed., Chelsea House, 1995.

Main Level, Reference: R 810.9896073 M72M

Modern Black Writers, St. James Press, 2000.
Main Level, Reference: R 810.9896073 M72M2 [2 vols]

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, Oxford University Press, 1997. 
Main Level, Reference: R 810.8 Ox2O

Women Playwrights of Diversity: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, Greenwood Press, 1997. 
Main Level, Reference: R 812.5409 P442W


E-Reference Books   back to top

The A to Z of African American Theater. Anthony D. Hill. Scarecrow Press, 2009.

[EBSCO eBook Collection]

African-American Performance and Theater History : A Critical Reader. Harry J. Elam, Jr., and David Krasner, editors.  Oxford University Press, 2001.

[ebrary eBook Collection]

August Wilson: A Research and Production Sourcebook. Yvonne Shafer. Greenwood Press, 1998.

Upper Level:  812.5409 Sh13A  


Cambridge Histories Online

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in this collection:


Histories Online




Cambridge History of American Theatre [3 vols]

Volume 1: Beginnings to 1870 (1998)

Volume 2: 1870–1945 (1999)

Volume 3: Post-World War II to the 1990s (2000)

These three links for Cambridge History of American Theatre volumes are available on campus only!








CREDO Reference

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Cambridge Guide to Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Also available in print, Main Level, Reference:

R 792.0321 C144C

Cambridge Guide to Literature in English, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Coverage here of novelists, poets, playwrights, and their works; embraces both the established classics of English literature and a wealth of contemporary figures from all over the English-speaking world.

Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature, Continuum PUblishing, Ltd., 2005.

Comprehensive single-volume literary survey is for the student, scholar signed biographical-critical entries, this Encyclopedia serves as both guide and companion to the study and appreciation of American literature.








Oxford African American Studies Center   



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content here


Information about the following Oxford titles:

Africana, which presents a powerful account of the African and African American experience in five volumes.

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895

Focusing on the making of African American society from the arrival of the black explorer Esteban, who came with the Spanish in 1527, to the death of Frederick Douglass in 1895, this encyclopedia traces the transition from Africa to America and the role Africans played in shaping the development of American society.

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896-present

Focuses on the making of African American society from the 1896 "separate but equal" ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson up to the contemporary period. It traces the transition from the Reconstruction Era to the age of Jim Crow, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Migration, the Brown ruling that overturned Plessy, the Civil Rights Movement, and the ascendant influence of African American culture on the American cultural landscape.

Black Women in America, Second Edition [3 vols]

Celebrates the remarkable achievements of black women throughout history, highlights their ongoing contributions in America today, and represents the new research the first edition helped to generate.

African American National Biography
African American history through the lives of its people, ultimately offering over 6,000 biographies. New entries from this landmark work are continually added as part of the regular update program, with over 1,200 already online.




Oxford Reference Online             please logout when finished-5 users only  




Concise Oxford Companion to African American Theatre, Oxford University Press, 2001.

Biographies of authors, critics, literary characters, and historical figures, and 150 plot summaries of major works. Includes general articles on poetry, fiction, and drama; on autobiography, slave narratives, Sunday School literature, and oratory; as well as on a wide spectrum of related topics.

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

The Oxford Companion to American Theatre  [Oxford Reference Online]. Oxford University Press, 2004.  
Also available in print, Main Level, Reference: R 792.0973 B644O



SAGE Reference Online              



Encyclopedia of African American Society, Sage Publishing, 2005.  Provides the reader with a reliable and initial reference as a point of entry—a starting point for learning basic facts and ideas about African American society and for obtaining guidance about where to go for more information.

Encyclopedia of Black Studies, Sage Publishing, 2004.

Scholars, researchers, and students can refer to the encyclopedia for trustworthy accounts, common definitions in the field of Black Studies, and disciplinary protocols.



Sharpe Online Reference    



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or these individual titles:



Offering a unique, interdisciplinary approach to U.S. history and culture, Sharpe Online Reference (SOLR) explores the broad range of events, people, movements, and political, social, economic, and cultural issues that have shaped the nation and the world from earliest times to the present day.

Gilded Age & Progressive Era

Encyclopedia of the Jazz Age

Social Issues in America



Biographical Sources   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.

Gale Biography in Context
A comprehensive database of biographical information on over 340,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines and subject areas. It combines more than 435,000 biographies from over 1,000 volumes of more than 135 respected Gale sources such as Contemporary Authors, Encyclopedia of World Biography, Newsmakers, Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Contemporary Musicians, Historic World Leaders, Notable Twentieth-Century Scientists, Contemporary Black Biography, Religious Leaders of America, International Dictionary of Art and Artists, Writers Directory, and many more, with more than 538,000 full-text articles from nearly 300 magazines.

Oxford African American Studies Center

See the full description above. Includes 6,000 biographies of African Americans. See

Black Women in America, Second Edition and African American National Biography.

Citation Style Manuals
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MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers,
7th ed., Modern Language Association, 2009.
Main Level, Reference:
Ready Reference Shelf or

R 808.027 M72M

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


Locating Books   back to top


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

  • Search for a person, as AUTHOR or SUBJECT, with last name, then first name:              
  Wright, Richard [as AUTHOR]  
  Wright, Richard [as SUBJECT]  
  • SUBJECT searching requires use of Library of Congress subject headings. The terms below are examples of subject headings related to Postcolonial literature:
  Library of Congress Subject Headings (SUBJECT search in Thomcat)

African American Dramatists--20th Century Interviews

  African American Theatre History

American Drama--African American Authors--History And Criticism

  Playwrights as Subjects:
  Baraka, Amiri, 1934- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  Shange, Ntozake -- Criticism and interpretation

Wilson, August -- Criticism and interpretation

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:
African American*
AND theat*

· Add * to the root of a word to truncate or
expand a term:

theat* = theater, theatre, theaters, theatrical

· Use OR between words to expand your search and
group words with parentheses:

(black* OR African American*) AND
(drama OR

Try KEYWORD searching with

ThomCat & PASCAL catalogs, & library databases

PASCAL Catalog

If you need books in addition to those found at Thomason Library, try your search here for books in other academic libraries in SC. Through PASCAL Delivers, you can order books online for delivery within 3-5 working days. 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.

EBSCO eBook Collection [EBSCO]

A large collection of electronic books covering a vast array of topics and themes.


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 the PASCAL Catalog.


Interlibrary Loan 

ILL is available to PC students, faculty and staff in order to share resources between libraries. Click link for instructions.

Locating Articles & Criticism:    
Journal Article Databases   back to top


The following journal databases are available to PC students, faculty, and staff

from on- and off-campus locations.

When passworded from off-campus locations,
supply your PC e-mail username and password.

If searching for a specific dramatic work, search by author’s last name and title or part of the key words from the title of the work (e.g.--  Shange and colored girls and suicide).

A searchable archive of full-text journals covering all disciplines. 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.

Academic Search Complete [EBSCO]
EBSCOhost's scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 8,500 full-text periodicals, including more than 7,300 peer-reviewed journals.

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.

Project MUSE: Basic Undergraduate Collection

Current and recent volumes of 111 core journals in the humanities and social sciences.


Journal Finder   back to top

Search Journal Finder to determine if PC has full text for the journal, magazine or newspaper article you need.  Journal Finder will provide the range of dates available as well as a link to the database.

Browse Journal Finder by title or subject. When browsing or searching, you can read articles from any journal that is available in the Full-text resources online group of results. Choose a database in this group based on the dates available and the time frame in which you are interested.


Search or Browse

Journal Finder

by Title, Full Text Online, Subject, or by Database name

Citation Example:

Baraka, Amiri. 2010. "Still a revolutionary." New Theatre Quarterly 26, no. 4 [November]:


  1. Note the date of the journal issue you need before following the Journal Finder link.
  2. Default search is TITLE BEGINS WITH _____ . Type the title of the journal or magazine in the empty box (example: New Theatre Quarterly).
  3. You may need to select your title from the results. Click on the title you s
  4. Note the "dates available" in a Full Text category. Click on a database that covers the date you need.
  5. Choose, year and issue OR volume and issue, then look through the contents of that issue for the article you need. Articles are usually listed in page number order and may be available in HTML or PDF format.


Get Help   back to top
Stop by the
Reference Desk

Sara Rowe 833-8313
Dan Lee 833-8437


Hours: 8.30 am - 10 pm for research questions & assistance.  Personal appointments also available.
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