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Introduction to Theatre (THEA 1313): "Isms" in Literature & Art

Step One - Define the Term

ISMs often refer to a particular movement or theory of thought during a particular time as it relates to drama, literature and/or art.  Before you can write about a specific ISM, you need to understand and define what it is.  To begin your research, use a specialized dictionary or a general reference to theatre that explains the term you are researching.  Some suggested titles to do this would be:

Here's an example of the term "dadaism" defined in The Penguin Dictionary of the Theatre:

Artistic movement of the early 1920s.  Precursor of surrealism, with which it had much in common - a taste for shock, outrage, and unlikely disruptions and juxtapositions  . .  . (p.77)

Once defined, you understand when the term came into use giving you a historical context while also identifying characteristics of this particular movement.

Step Two - Perform a Literature Search

Once you have a "working definition" and a basic understanding of your ISM, you are ready to start your literature search.

1.  Begin by searching the library catalog. Some terms you will find, others you may not.  Here's an example of one search and the results.  If  you would like more help with doing a book search in the catalog, click here for a short tutorial.

2.  Next, check the suggested databases for articles on your assigned topic.  Begin by entering your "ISM" in the search box of the database.  

3.  Here's an example from JSTOR.

4.  You can refine and reduce your results by using other keywords in your search, such as theatre, drama or a particular playwright.

5.  For more help with searching the databases, click here.  

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