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THTR 500 - Bibliography and Research Methods

Finding Books

The UBC Library catalogue is a good place to start looking for books on your topic. To enhance and improve your search results, use truncation in your keyword searches and try searching the subject headings assigned to books on your topic. Before you begin your searching, consider your topic and write down the key concepts. What are the keywords that describe your subject? Think of related words, synonyms, and different spellings. For example, for the topic: Feminist theater in England in the early 20th century.


Key concepts are:

  • feminist, feminism, women, gender
  • theatre or theater, plays, drama, literature
  • England, English, Great Britain
  • 20th or twentieth century, Victorian, Edwardian

Use truncation to expand your search results:

  • feminist theatre england 20th - gives you 10 results
  • feminis? theat? engl? 20th - gives you 72 results
  • The ? is a truncation mark used in the Library catalogue to broaden your search: for example, theat? will retrieve records with theater, theaters, theatre, theatres, theatrical, etc.

Browse the results list and look at the full records to see the subject headings assigned for relevant titles. Note that the results are sorted by relevance. You can change the results to sort by date, author, or title. Click on the subject headings to find more books on your topic.

Examples of other subject headings to search for books on this topic include:

  • Feminism and theater
  • Women in the theater
  • Feminist theater
  • Women's rights and literature
  • English drama women authors
  • Suffragists in literature
  • Women in literature
  • Feminist drama, English

Examples of other subject headings to search for books in this course include:

·  Theater--Semiotics

·  Theater--Philosophy

·  Theater

·  Phenomenology

·  Theater--Psychological aspects

·  Theater--Historiography

·  Ethnology--Research--Methodology


Summon is the UBC Library's meta-discovery tool that provides a single starting point to find and to access the majority of the UBC Library collections - including books, ebooks, scholarly journals and articles, newspaper articles, dissertations and theses, videos, maps, manuscripts, music scores, digitized items, and more.

Summon is very fast and excels at finding our ebooks and a multitude of other resources using keyword searching. It's a good starting point for research. Summon only indexes about 80% of our articles and doesn't cover some full text resources such as the Oxford reference guides so you should also use the Library catalogue and specialized databases for your research. It's useful when you are searching for a specific journal article. Use the Library Catalogue if you want to search by specific fields (i.e. author, title, call number, subject headings, etc.).

When searching Summon, it's important to use quotation marks around phrases.
Try searching shakespeare in love then "shakespeare in love".
Narrow your results to books/ebooks, then scholarly articles.

Browsing Subjects and Call Numbers

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Most library catalogues use Library of Congress Subject Headings for subject description. These are available in a multi-volume set on the counter behind the Koerner Reference Desk. These subject headings:

  • Provide a control list for subjects assigned to books
  • Offer universal subject coverage
  • Help put concepts into words
  • Reflect actual, not theoretical, subjects
  • Guarantee that research material exists
  • Are used by most North American libraries
  • Are often used or built upon by general periodical indexes

Reliable searching depends on understanding the relationship between natural language and deliberate subject description. The latter structures and controls natural language. Use of controlled subject headings or a thesaurus eliminates synonyms, defines a hierarchy of inclusion (broader than, narrower than), and indicates some less precise semantic connections. Scope notes may elaborate on distinctions made among terms.

For example, the subject heading Drama has a scope note and many cross-references, which give a good sense of the range of possible headings:
Scope note: Here are entered works on drama as a literary form. Works on drama as acted on the stage are entered under Theater. Works on Facilities used to stage drama are entered under Theaters.


When you are starting your research on a topic, try looking up your key concepts in the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Often you will find ideas for other terms that will help you to find more relevant materials held in the Library.

For example, for the topic contemporary theatre in Canada some of the subjects headings include: 

  • Theater--Canada--20th century.
  • Theater--Canada--History--20th century.
  • Canadian drama--20th century--History and criticism.
  • Canadian drama--21st century--History and criticism.
  • Actors--Canada--History--20th century.
  • Theater and society--Canada.
  • Theater--Prairie Provinces--History--20th century.
  • Feminist theater--Canada

After you find a relevant book on your topic, you can also browse the catalogue by the Library of Congress call numbers to find more titles.

New Books in Theatre

New Books on Theatre

Bigotry on Broadway: an anthology cover
In on the joke : the original queens of stand-up comedy cover
Deep are the roots: trailblazers who changed black British theatre cover
Black patience: performance, civil rights, and the unfinished project of emancipation cover
Text and context : the operative word: a handbook for script work and directing in the theatre cover
Staging and stage décor: early modern Spanish theater cover
uevos espacios, nuevos formatos, nuevas dramaturgias: en el teatro hispánico actual cover
Un théâtre pour la nation: l'histoire en scène (1765-1806)
Theater* in queerem Alltag und Aktivismus der 1970er und 1980er Jahre
Russian futurist theatre cover
Sinophone adaptations of Shakespeare: an anthology, 1987-2007
Charles Macklin and the theatres of London cover
Shadows of the Enlightenment: tragic drama during Europe's age of reason cover
Theatre and autocracy in the ancient world cover
The Politics of Gender in Early American Theater: Revolutionary Dramatists and Theatrical Practices cover
Black Theater, City Life: African American Art Institutions and Urban Cultural Ecologies cover