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Theatre and Dance: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Handbooks

Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Reference Online consists of hundreds of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks.  Search the entire collection, individual titles, or the titles in the Performing Arts sub-collection

North American Theatre Online

North American Theatre Online. A comprehensive online database covering all aspects of the Canadian and American theatre, including 40,000 pages of major reference materials, approximately 30,000 plays, 57,000 people, 5,400 theatres, 22,000 productions, and 2,500 production companies. Includes links to the full text of plays.

Dictionaries of Theory (Dramatic, Performance, Literary)

Fortier, Mark. Theory/Theatre: An Introduction. 2nd edition. London, NY: Routledge, 2002.


Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Payne and Jessica Rae Barbera. New York: Wiley Online, 2010.


A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 5th ed. Ed. J.A. Cuddon and Rafey Habib. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.


Key Terms in Literary Theory. Compiled by Mary Klages. London: Continuum, 2012.

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman.

Theatre: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Handbooks

Acting: An International Encyclopedia. Ed. Beth Osnes. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2001. A major encyclopedia for theater, with articles on performing styles, genres, theatre companies, countries, and some individual performers, acting teachers, and theorists.

All Things Shakespeare: An Encyclopedia of Shakespeare's World. Ed. Kirstin Olsen. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 2002.  More than 200 articles on the form and function of obscure and everyday items from Shakespeare's world. 

American Theatre Companies, 1749-1887. Ed. Weldon B. Durham. NY: Greenwood Press, 1986. Followed by volumes for 1888-1930 (published 1987) and 1931-1986 (published 1989). Available online on both campuses in North American Theatre Online. Group biographies for prominent resident theater companies.

Barba, Eugenio. Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology. 2nd edition. Translated Richard Fowler. Abingdon, Oxon; NY: Routledge, 2005. 

Bloom, Ken. The Routledge Guide to Broadway. 2nd edition. NY: Routledge, 2007.

The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Ed. Don B. Wilmeth. Rev. ed. Cambridge & NY: Cambridge UP, 2007. PN 2221 .C36 2007 Geisel Reference

Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia. This resource collects and disseminates information on plays, playwrights and theatre practitioners. Editors are members of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research. 

Encyclopedia of Asian Theatre. Ed. Samuel L. Leiter. Westport, Ct. & London: Greenwood Press, 2007. 2 vols. PN2860 .E53 2007 Geisel Reference

Fisher, James. Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. Mostly short articles on individuals, theaters and terms relating to the theater in the U.S. from 1538 through 1880. 

Fisher, James. Historical Dictionary of Contemporary American Theater, 1930-2010. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.

Grange, William. Historical Dictionary of German Theatre. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2006.

Haupert, Michael J. Entertainment Industry: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2012. A useful chronology, biographical sketches of key people, data and documents, directory of organizations, and a glossary.

Lewandowski, Elizabeth J. The Complete Costume Dictionary. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2012. 

Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre. Ed. Jonathan Law. London: Methuen Drama, 2011.

The Oberon Glossary of Theatrical Terms: Theatre Jargon Explained. Ed. Colin Winslow. 2nd ed. London: Oberon, 2011.

The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. 3rd ed. Ed. Gerald Bordman and Thomas S. Hischak. NY: Oxford UP, 2004. 

The Oxford Companion to the American MusicalEd. Thomas Hischak. Oxford & NY: Oxford UP, 2008. 

Oxford Dictionary of Plays. Ed. Michael Patterson. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Brief information about 100 plays, including a plot summary, cast configuration, and evaluative comments. Indexes of characters and playwrights.  

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance. 2nd edition. Ed. Dennis Kennedy. Oxford & NY: Oxford UP, 2010.

Pavice, Patrice. The Routledge Dictionary of Performance and Contemporary Theatre. Trans. Andrew Brown. London: Routledge, 2016. 

Slanguage Dictionary. Definitions of slang terms used in Variety, the principal trade publication of the entertainment industry. 

World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre. London: Routledge, 1994-2000. 6 vols. Vol. 1: Europe; Vol. 2: The Americas; Vol. 3: Africa; Vol. 4: The Arab World; Vol. 5: Asia/Pacific; Vol. 6: Bibliography/Index. PN 2035 .W67 1994 Geisel Reference.

Dance: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Handbooks

International Encyclopedia of Dance. Ed. Selma Jeanne Cohen. NY & Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. With nearly 2,000 articles written by scholars from fifty countries, the encyclopedia covers the full spectrum of dance—theatrical, ritual, dance-drama, folk, traditional, ethnic, and social dance.

Encyclopedia of World Ballet. Ed. Mary Ellen Snodgrass. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.  Includes articles on choreographers, ballet companies, dancers, composers, set and costume designers, productions, techniques, and terms.  

Craine, Debra and Judith Mackrell. The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. 2nd edition. NY & Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Includes detailed entries on technical terms, steps, styles, works, and countries, in addition to many biographies of dancers, choreographers, and companies.

The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theatre. Ed. Nadine George-Graves. NY & Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015. A compendium of over three dozen essays surveying a wide variety of academic approaches to the performing arts. GV1594 .O94 2015  Geisel Stacks Floor 6 .

Dance Discourses: Keywords in Dance Research. Ed. Susanne Franco and Marina Nordera. London; NY: Routledge, 2007. GV 1589 .D5716 2007 Geisel Stacks Floor 6.