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Theatre: Reference Books/E-Books

This guide covers resources for the study of drama and theatre at OSU, including how to find plays and reviews

Print Reference Books

Reference Books such as encyclopedias, guides, handbooks, and dictionaries can provide background information when researching authors and literary works.  Some have very brief entries, but others have more substantive discussions.  Some are available as e-book databases with full-text articles online.

Many reference books for theatre history and criticism are shelved on the 4th floor.

To search for reference books on theatrical topics or authors in library search, use your search term and the keywords Encyclopedia, Guide, or Handbook.

Reference E-Book Databases for Criticism & Info on Playwrights

Below are several reference e-book series from Gale Cengage Learning to help students, faculty, and beginning as well as advanced researchers find scholarly criticism of playwrights, plays, and theatre history. These databases offer searchable online PDF versions of the well-known Gale reference book series, and include biographical information about writers, lists of their works, bibliographies of criticism, and interpretive essays and excerpts from scholarly books, journal articles, and other publications.

You may log in with your OSU email address and O-Key password to access these databases off-campus.  Click HERE to log in.

  • Literature Resource Center offers up-to-date biographical information, overviews, full-text literary criticism, and reviews on more than 130,000 writers in all disciplines, from all time periods and from around the world. Its materials support interdisciplinary approaches, information literacy, and the development of critical thinking skills.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online provides more than 16,000 biographical and critical essays from the celebrated Dictionary of Literary Biography series, the DLB Documentary series, and the DLB Yearbook series. It covers the lives, works, and careers of the most influential authors from all eras and movements.
  • Literary Criticism Online offers a comprehensive compilation of literary commentary on authors, works, and topics. It contains scholarly and popular literary criticism from broadsheets, pamphlets, encyclopedias, books and articles delivered in an online format. Series included in this online collection are Shakespearean Criticism (SC), Poetry Criticism (PC), Short Story Criticism (SSC), Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism (NCLC), Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism (TCLC), and Contemporary Literature Criticism (CLC). Browse by author, literary work, or topic, or search by keyword, full text, named author, named work, critic, or source publication.
  • Something About the Author provides first-time comprehensive online access to the acclaimed and long-standing Something About the Author Gale series, which examines the lives and works of authors and illustrators for children and young adults and is the preeminent source on authors and literature for young people. Includes biographies, brief biographies, autobiographies, and obituaries. Browse authors or search by keyword, full text, or named author.

Other Reference E-Books for Theatre

Below are some other reference e-book databases useful for theatre history.

You will may log in with your OSU email address and O-Key password to access these databases off-campus.  Click HERE to log in.

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography contains over 57,000 biographies of important people who shaped the history and culture of the British Isles and beyond from the 4th century to the 21st century.  It includes over 10,000 illustrations and is updated three times a year with new biographies and reference material.
  • Oxford Reference Online (Performing Arts subject search) includes the full text of nearly twenty standard reference books form Oxford University Press, including several titles in the well-know Oxford Companion series. 
  • Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism Online is an indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. It includes more than 240 alphabetically arranged entries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.