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TH 203 Theatre Aesthetics: Search Tips

First steps for efficient, successful research!

Before you even start to search, it's important to narrow and refine your topic to a simple, meaningful research question or statement.  Otherwise, your search results and project will be too overwhelming and unmanagable. One quick shortcut to narrowing a topic to a managable research question is to ask Who, What, Where, and When in relation to your topic.

Once you have a simple research statement, you will need to identify 2-4 keywords in your statement.  Do not type in a sentence or partial sentence, just use keywords. Most of the time, the keywords will be nouns or verbs.  For each keyword, make a list of alternate terms. These terms may be synonyms, broader or narrower concepts, or alternate spellings.  When you search, try alternate keyword combinations.

Search Tips

Keyword Search

You can use these tips in a keyword search-

  •  Uses natural language. Type a word or phrase.  Use only simple words and phrases--no sentences. Don't use vague terms such as "pros and cons,"  "the best of...,"   " the efects of...."

  • With keyword you can search for simply broadway

  • Expand your results by using OR -- (theater  OR theatre OR broadway)      OR= more results

  • Focus your results by using AND--  aids AND politics                                       AND=fewer results
  •  Put quotes or parentheses around phrases when you want to retrieve all of the words, in the exact order given.  Example: "a little night music”
  • You can use an * to retrieve multiple variants of a word with one efficient search. Example: fantast* retrieves results with fantasy, fantistic, fantastical, fantastik

  • You can also use combined searches such as   "a little night music” AND "angela lansbury"
  • It can be useful to start with a keyword search and use the results to identify the appropriate subject headings to use in a Subject search.

Subject Search

 Requires specific Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings. The words have to be typed in the exact order used by Library of Congress. You cannot use AND or OR. 

Examples of relevant Library of Congress Subject Headings  

Musicals -- Production and direction

Prince, Harold, 1928- -- Criticism and interpretation.

Theatrical producers and directors -- United States -- Biography

Performing arts -- Political aspects.


Acting -- History -- To 1500


Afro-American dramatists


Children's plays

Children's theater

Chinese drama

Chinese drama -- History and criticism

Drama -- History and criticism [literary criticism]

Drama -- Technique

Drama, Medieval

Drama, Medieval -- History and criticism

Dramatic criticism [theatre criticism]

Dramatic monologues

English drama -- Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600

English drama -- History and criticism

English drama -- To 1500

Ensemble theater

Equestrian drama

Ethnic theater

European drama

European drama -- History and criticism

European drama -- Renaissance, 1450-1600




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