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Theatre 371: Contextual Research: Context


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?

Medea by Euripides (431 BCE) 

Lysistrata by Aristophanes (411 BCE)

Everyman by Anonymous​ (1495)

Doctor Faustus  by Christopher Marlowe (1594)

Volepone by Ben Johnson (1606)

‘Tis Pity She's a Whore by John Ford (1633)

Loa to Divine Narcissus ​by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1689) 

Suggested Sources for Understanding Context

Background Sources

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

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"

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.


Primo Search

Articles for In-Depth Information

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

Examples of Books about Daily Life

Social Histories