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THTR 371 | Theatre History I: From the Origins of Theatre to the 17th Century

Resources for your Context Paper

In order to work on your Context Paper for the Dramaturgy Sequence you will need to research the world around the play at the time it was written, beyond what is included in the Norton introduction to each play.

  • What were current events when it premiered (when did it premiere?)?
  • Who were important figures in government, the arts, business?
  • What was happening with religion, education, family structures, understandings of identity, and political structures?
  • What other sorts of artistic events or movements where starting, ending, or under way? 

This page offers guidance on completing this research, as well as recommended sources for the time period studied in the class. 

Suggested Sources for Understanding Context


Search Primo for Context

When searching Primo for books about context, try these search terms:

everyday life, use social life and customs, e.g. England Social   life  and   customs 16th   century

first productions and staging, use stage history, e.g., Jonson stage history

history of the period, use country and century, e.g., Spain 17th century;

broad overview of country or city's history, use country and civilization, e.g,.  Spain  Civilization 1516-1700

works about the theatre, use theater and country, e.g., Theater England History

critical works, use  criticism, e.g.,  Shakespeare AND criticism; English drama   Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600 history and criticism

views of the author, use author and political and social views or author and religion, e.g.,  "Sor Juana Ines" AND political AND social views; Marlowe AND religion

Note: When searching by subject, use the ER spelling of theater.

Search Primo

Search Collins+Summit+Articles

Background Sources

Start with these background sources to establish factual evidence for a play and its historical period.

Social Histories




Examples of Chronologies

These sources help identify significant events of a specific time period. To find chronologies in Primo, use the search terms "chronology historical"

Examples of Books about Daily Life

Theatre Audiences


ARTstor is a large collection of digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences from museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists' estates.  Click on the ARTstor logo to begin your search.

Selected Theatre Journals

Theatre Research International publishes articles on theatre practices in their social, cultural, and historical contexts, their relationship to other media of representation, and to other fields of inquiry.

Theatre Survey provides rigorous historical and theoretical studies of theatre and performance across all periods, cultures, and methodologies.

Theatre History Studies provides critical, analytical, and descriptive articles on all aspects of theatre history.

Early Theatre provides research in medieval or early modern drama and theatre history, rooted in the records and documents of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

Articles for In-Depth Information

Start with these databases to find articles relating to the historical and social context of the play.