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THTR 313 | Directing

Contextual Research

Perform contextual research to identify the unique factors that contribute to the play’s context and informs a deeper reading of the script itself.  Use these questions to guide your research about contextual research.

  • Why was it written?
  • What was it responding to?
  • What was the historical/political/social climate of the time?
  • How does it fit into the playwright's career/larger body of work?
  • What was the play asking/proposing at the time?

Contextual Research

When looking for contextual information, try these types of sources:

  • Newspaper articles for information about issues during a specific time period- see the newspaper articles on the production history tab
  • Subject encyclopedias for an overview of an issue or basic facts about a play, ex. Gale Virtual Reference, Oxford Reference
  • Books about a period of time or issue  as well as about the playwright - use Primo
  • Journal articles about the playwright's career and work - use the literature sources on this page

Concept Mapping

It may be helpful to create a concept map as a way of brainstorming about the culture and context of a play.

Example of a concept map for Angels in America

Sources for Context

Search for broad topics in these sources.

Playwright Resources

Check Primo to find biographies and other sources about the playwright. Use quotes around the author's name, ex. "George Bernard Shaw"

For newer playwrights, check newspaper databases and websites about the playwright.

Historical Databases

Use the following databases to find more in-depth historical analyses:

Historical Newspapers

Multidisciplinary Databases

The databases listed below are examples of databases that cover a wide range of topics and can be useful for finding context.

Note: If you need discipline-specific resources, it is better to use the recommended subject databases under the "articles" tab in the library subject guides