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Information Literacy


What Should Theatre Majors Know?

By the time they graduate all majors in Theatre should:

  1. Be able to think conceptually and critically about text, performance and production.
  2. Have an understanding of the history of stage practices, the relationship of theatre to the cultures which produce it, and an acquaintance with a wide selection of theatre repertory across major historical eras, principal styles and world cultures.
  3. Be conversant with basic approaches to acting, directing and design.
  4. Have advanced knowledge in a specific area within Theatre as a result of her concentration within the major.
  5. Have a working facility with stage and performance practices.
  6. Understand how theatre scholars conduct research and access information, and have the ability to develop and articulate informed judgments about theatre.

Students of Theatre will gradually familiarize themselves with major works, links to search engines, libraries, archives, institutes, and other information literacy resources and the wide body of resources available to scholars in the field.

Writing Intensive Classes

Students who have fulfilled the writing intensive requirement should already have learned basic information literacy skills prior to entering the major in Theatre. Such skills are likely to include:

  • The ability to know how and when to acknowledge and cite a source in the proper scholarly format
  • The ability to evaluate with confidence the reliability of a source
  • Familiarity with the reference resources of the library
  • An understanding of how scholars identify the kinds of information they need and where to find it
  • Be able to identify a variety of sources for information beyond basic web search engines
  • Apply criteria for evaluating information sources; distinguish between popular and scholarly materials in various formats (books, periodicals, web sites)

Information Literacy Objectives for Theatre Students

  1. Defining information needs: Understand how information is organized for research purposes; what types of information can be obtained from online sources; familiarity with formats that contain performance works and ability to access them; understand the differences between formats and how they may or may not suit research needs.
  2. Accessing information: Know where to find basic reference sources for performing arts; how to find reviews of live performances and recordings; how to find journal databases for performing arts subjects; know search strategies for locating non-text materials; be able to identify and access full-content multi-media materials online.
  3. Evaluating information: Awareness of and ability to recognize bias (in critical reviews, for example); recognize differences between original and interpretive work; understand what constitutes a primary source in performing arts.
  4. Presenting information: Selecting the most appropriate types of media to best convey information or illustrate a point; knowing how to prepare and present excerpts of recorded work, and methods of copying portions of recorded work to another medium.
  5. Ethical use: Awareness of fair use, when to get permission and knowledge of when royalty fees are required; recognize the differences between legal and illegal methods of obtaining multimedia clips via the Internet; how to use citation guides for media and for electronic source materials.

Students in Theatre History classes and First-Year Seminars taught in the Theatre Department will become familiar with the stylistic rules for writing papers, bibliographies, notes, citing of sources. Students should consult Smith Handbook of Style for specific information regarding the preparation of papers. The Jacobson Center has the Smith Writing Papers Handbook and a summary of the MLA documentation guide online.

The library offers students a great deal of guidance in how to find information and conduct research. Though the information above highlights some of the general resources in Theatre, our students would also benefit greatly from familiarizing themselves with general search engines that often include articles of interest to Theatre.

These skills are to be understood as a basis for all further study in Theatre.

Competencies for Beginning Theatre Majors

Students completing THE198 AND THE199 will:

  • Understand the major areas of theatre performances
  • Appreciate world theatre and global theatre practices
  • Establish skills in close reading and critical inquiry.

Students in these courses may consult:

THE199 Library Class Guide Libraries' Resources for Theatre History and Culture Eighteenth Century to the Present
Find Articles (Smith College) Interdisciplinary article databases
JSTOR Back issues excluding the most recent 2-5 years
Oxford English Dictionary Traces the development of English from 1150 AD to the present. Entries include spelling, pronunciation, derivation, meaning, and usage.
Writing About Theatre - Davis, Rick and Christopher Thaiss SC/Josten Reference PN 1707 .T45 1999

Students studying Acting will:

  • Become familiar with standard methodologies and styles of actor training; develop and be able to articulate a flexible vocabulary of acting methods; demonstrate familiarity with procedures and approaches to performing a variety of theatre styles.
  • Develop competencies in aspects of performance (basic acting work to include: scoring a role, building a character, analyzing a text; voice production; physical expressiveness; improvisation; heightened language) appropriate to individual needs and interests, and consistent with the goals and objectives of a liberal arts curriculum.
  • Pursue opportunities for performance in classroom, workshop, laboratory and/or in fully staged productions, as a means of developing intermediate to advanced competence as actors.
  • Skills will be taught in THE141, THE142, THE242, THE313, THE346.

Students studying Directing will:

  • Be able to read and analyze plays from different periods, representing a wide range of genres, cultures and styles, with an ability to articulate the central action and dramatic structure.
  • Be conversant with means of conducting artistic research on dramatic texts; be able to access and use information resources effectively and ethically.
  • Be able to recognize and discuss the elements of design in theatrical productions; and to communicate effectively with designers.
  • Understand how to develop character through action and intention; how to break down a script; how to develop rehearsal processes and procedures; how to collaborate with designers and actors.
  • Skills will be taught in THE344, THE345.

Students studying Design will familiarize themselves with:

THE252: Set Design I: Image Research
Most of the information listed is sources for digital image research. There is also an important tab explaining fair use of copyrighted material - especially concerning image research. Some of the best data services are listed on the digital image tab. Skills will be taught in THE252, THE253, THE254, THE317, THE318, THE352, THE353, and THE354.

Students studying Theatre History, Literature, and Criticism will:

  • Investigate theatre of past eras as well as contemporary theatre from a multiplicity of cultures and aesthetic/stylistic approaches. 
  • Develop skills in close reading and critical inquiry
  • Examine writers, texts, approaches, and productions in their particular cultural and historical context
  • Skills will be taught in THE213, THE215, THE217, THE218, THE220, THE240, THE313, THE316, THE317, THE319.

Students studying Playwriting will focus on:

  • Thinking dramatically—transforming ideas into actions, ideas into plot/story
  • Creating character through action and interaction
  • Using language as action
  • Conjuring an audience in the theatre
  • Developing the habit of writing
  • Creating texts that allow for the creativity of other collaborating artists
  • Skills will be taught in THE261, THE262, THE361, THE362

Additional Library Web Pages and Online Resources for Theatre Courses

Library Class Guides  
THE213: American Theatre  


Smith Libraries Sources for Shakespeare SC Neilson Call Number
Shakespeare: an Oxford guide ref PR 2976 .S333 2003
Oxford Companion to Shakespeare ref PR 2892 .O94 2001
or click here for online
Essential Shakespeare ref PR 2894 .C53
Shakespeare Index ref PR 2894 .S25
Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare PR 2894  .C33 2001
click here
World Shakespeare Bibliography click here
Other Online Shakespeare Sources Links
Complete Works of Shakespeare click here
Complete Texts of Shakespeare’s Plays click here
Folger Shakespeare Library Online click here
Illustrated Shakespeare Online click here
The Rare Book Room - allows visitors to read some of the great books of the world.  The Shakespeare section contains most of the Quartos from the British Library, as well as a First Folio from the Folder Shakespeare Library click here

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

Since Theatre includes the study of ACTING, DIRECTING, DESIGN, PLAYWRITING, SCRIPT ANALYSIS, THEATRE HISTORY, and many other disciplines students must consult relevant information literacy resources for those disciplines.

Students in Intermediate and Advanced Theatre courses should familiarize themselves with the following search engines:

Database Description
Play Index 1949+ Lists plays written from Antiquity to the present; includes plays published separately and in collections, with full publication details.
Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance Covers theater performance from ancient to modern times; also covers dance, opera, radio, film, television, and popular performance.
International Index to the Performing Arts Indexes 210+ scholarly and popular performing arts periodicals, biographical profiles, conference papers, obituaries, interviews, discographies, reviews and more.

300 Level Courses and Research-Based Special Studies

Students in advanced research courses should be able to:

  • Identify a compelling research topic that forces them to engage with primary and secondary materials at an advanced level;
  • locate and effectively use scholarly sources that allow them to demonstrate a familiarity with the secondary literature and stake out a position in relation to it.


Database Description
Arts & Humanities Search 1980+ Extensive Index to 1,300 journals in all arts and humanities disciplines.
Historical Abstracts 1956+ Covers history after 1450, excluding U.S. and Canada; lists articles, books, collections, and dissertations.
Humanities Abstracts 1984+ Abstracts of articles, book reviews, interviews, obituaries, fiction, drama, poetry, and reviews of plays, television, and radio from 465+ sources.
Humanities and Social Sciences Index Retrospective 1907-1984 Indexes 1,200 scholarly journals and specialized magazines in the social sciences and humanities; with citations to book reviews.
MLA Bibliography 1926+ Extensive index to literature, language, linguistics and folklore in journal articles, books, dissertations, proceedings, and more. From the Modern Language Association of America.
Periodicals Archive Online (PAO) 1802-1995 Full text archive of hundreds of periodicals in the arts, humanities and social sciences from their first issues to 1995. For complete indexing use the Periodicals Index Online.
Periodicals Index Online (PIO) 1665-1995 Index to thousands of periodicals in the arts, humanities and social sciences from their first issues to 1995. Full text of selected titles can be found in Periodicals Archive Online database.


Additional Sources for Scholarly Articles
Academic Search Premier 1965+ Full text for 4,500+ scholarly publications in the social sciences, humanities, arts, and sciences.
Expanded Academic Index 1980+ Full text scholarly journals, news magazines, and newspapers. Covers the arts and humanities, the social sciences, science and technology, across all academic disciplines.
America: History & Life 1953+ Extensive index to 1,700 journals, books, and dissertations on American and Canadian history, popular culture, anthropology, sociology, economics, education, and politics.

In What Classes Will Skills be Taught?

Focus Classes
Beginning Students THE 198, THE199
Acting THE141, THE142, THE242, THE313, THE346
Directing THE344, THE345
Design THE252, THE253, THE254, THE317, THE318, THE352, THE353, THE354
Playwriting THE261, THE262, THE361, THE362
Literature THE213, THE215, THE217, THE218, THE220, THE240, THE313, THE316, THE317, THE319


Using someone else’s words, ideas , or arguments without acknowledgement is plagiarism. This is a serious violation of the College’s Honor Code. Students should learn to distinguish between “received knowledge” and original work, between ideas that have often been repeated and ideas that are new. They must always identify and acknowledge their sources for everything except “received knowledge,” such as dates and facts found in many encyclopedias and dictionaries.

November 30, 2009