Skip to Main Content

Theater & Performing Arts Research Guide

Background Research

Background research can help you:

  • narrow down a broad theme into a smaller topic
  • learn the basics of your topic
  • develop a list of keywords to use when searching for more sources
  • develop a research question and/or thesis statement

Starter Databases

Starter databases:

  • simple, browseable databases meant to help students with background research
  • often contain credible reference articles, but can also have viewpoint essays
  • a good alternative or supplement to Wikipedia

Best starter databases for performing arts: This link opens in a new window

A database of encyclopedias, almanacs and specialized reference sources.

Contains over 5,000 art images, maps, and line drawings from major collections and also contains links to over 40,000 images at museum websites.

Contains over 50,000 subject articles and biographies written by more than 6000 contributors. Grove Music Online also includes the full text of the The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.​​​​​​​

Contains biographies on more than 335,000 people from around the world and throughout history.

Gale eBooks tutorial

Gale eBooks Tutorial

  • This database has subject-specific encyclopedia articles which provide simple topic overviews.
  • A perfect way to get to know your topic before diving deeper into scholarly research.
  • Watch the video below to learn more:

Reference Books to Use in the Library

Reference Books in the Library

  • The books below provide background information and are great starting points for your research.
  • They can be found in the Library's first-floor Reference collection, next to the Research Help Desk.
  • These books are available for in-library use only.

Books to Check Out

Books to Check Out

  • These books can be found on the second floor of the library and are available to check out.
  • Write down the book's title and call number to find the book on the shelf.