THEA: Theatrical Design

2002 production of the Dvorak opera Rusalka

Design: Buildings, Interiors, Dress

Selected IC Library Subject Searches

  • The design and construction of sets fall under Theaters--Stage-setting and scenery--and these resources may also address sound and lighting. See also  Stage props,  Stage management, and  Set designers (more about set design than particular designers).

Design--History--20th century 
Design--Psychological aspects 
Color in design--Handbooks, manuals, etc. 
Color in art 
Mechanical drawing 
Architectural drawing 
Architectural drawing--Technique 
Architectural rendering--Technique 
Architectural design 
Architecture--designs and plans 

Space (Architecture) 
Architecture--Psychological aspects 
Architecture, Ancient 
Architecture, Greek 
Architecture, Roman, 
Architecture, Medieval 
Architecture, Renaissance 
Architecture, Gothic 
Architecture, Romanesque 
Architecture, Baroque 
Architecture, Rococo 
Architecture, Colonial 
Architecture, Victorian 
Art deco (Architecture)
Architecture, Modern 
Architecture, Modern--19th century 
Architecture, Modern--19th century--United States 
Architecture, Modern--20th century 
Architecture, Modern--20th century--United States 
Architecture, Postmodern 

Architecture--Great Britain 
Architecture--United States 

Architecture, Domestic 
Architecture, Domestic--Designs and plans 
Architecture, Domestic--England--History 
Architecture, Domestic--Italy 
Architecture, Domestic--Japan 
Architecture, Domestic -- Spain -- Seville 
Architecture, Domestic--New England 
Architecture, Domestic--United States 
Architecture, Domestic--United States--History 
Row Houses 
Suburban Homes 

Room layout (Dwellings) 

Interior Decoration 
Interior Decoration--History 
Color in interior decoration 
Textile fabrics in interior decoration 
Interior Decoration--England 
Interior Decoration--France 
Interior Decoration--Japan 
Interior Decoration--Spain 
Interior Decoration--United States
Interior Decoration--United States--History 
House furnishings--United States--History 
Furniture, Classical 
Furniture, French--History
Furniture, Early American 
Furniture, Colonial--United States 
Furniture--United States 
Chairs--Pictorial works 
Rugs, Oriental 

Decoration and ornament 
Decoration and ornament--History 
Decoration and ornament, Renaissance
Decoration and ornament--Art nouveau 
Decoration and ornament--England 
Decoration and ornament--England--Georgian style 
Decoration and ornament--Victorian style 
Decoration and ornament--France--History 
Decoration and ornament--Louis XVI style 
Decoration and ornament, Rococo 
Decoration and ornament, Architectural 
Arts and crafts movement 
Mural painting and decoration 
Stencil work 
Repetitive patterns (Decorative arts) 
Textile design 
Flower arrangement 

Material culture 
Material culture--History 
Material culture--Europe 
Material culture--Europe--History 
Material culture--Great Britain--History 
Material culture -- Spain -- History -- 20th century 
Material culture--United States 
  • Two Subject subheadings that may also prove useful in researching the material culture of a particular time and place are --Civilization and --Social life and customs, either of which may follow a country name and both of which may be further subdivided by time period. For example:

Great Britain--Civilization--17th century 
Spain -- Civilization -- 19th century 
United States--Civilization--1783-1865 

Italy--Social life and customs 
France--Social life and customs--18th century 
Great Britain--Social life and customs--18th century 
Japan--Social life and customs--1600o-1868 
Spain--Social life and customs 
United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865 
  • Resources relevant to theatrical costume design may be found under several Subject Headings which in practice are difficult--and unrewarding--to distinguish from one another:

Costume--History--16th century 
Costume--History--17th century 
Costume--History--18th century 
Costume--History--19th century 
Costume--History--20th century 
Costume--Great Britain 
Costume--Fracne--History--18th century 
Costume--United States 
Costume--United States--History 
Costume--United States--History--19th century 
Costume--Symbolic aspects 
Costume design
Costume design--History 
Costume design--England 
Costume design--France 
Costume design--Italy 

Clothing and dress 
Clothing and dress--History 
Clothing and dress--Psychological aspects 
Clothing and dress--Social aspects 
Clothing and dress--Symbolic aspects 
Clothing and dress--France--History--18th century 
Clothing and dress--Great Britain--History--19th century 
Clothing and dress--United States--History--18th century 
Clothing and dress--United States--History--20th century
Dress accessories 
Men's clothing 
Men's clothing--History 

Fashion photography 
Fashion--Psychological aspects 
Fashion--Social aspects 
Fashion design 
Fashion design--History 
Dressmaking--Pattern design 
Tailoring--Pattern design 
Fashion drawing 
Clothing and dress measurements 

Jewelry making 

Theatrical makeup

Design: Art as Inspiration

Selected IC Library Subject Searches

Art, Ancient
Art, African
Art, Classical
Art, Greek
Art, Roman
Art, Medieval
Art, Renaissance
Art, Baroque
Art, Rococo
Art, Modern--17th-18th centuries
Art, Modern--19th century
Arts and crafts movement
Impressionism (Art)
Art, Modern--20th century
Post-impressionism (Art)
Art deco
Art, Abstract
Pop art​

Art, Italian
Art, British
Art, French
Art, Spanish
Art, Russian
Art, Asian
Art, Indic
Art, Chinese
Art, Japanese

Art and society--Europe
Art and society--France
Art and society--Great Britain
Art and society--Greece
Art and society--Italy
Art and society--Spain
Art and society--United States

If ther period you are researching falls within the last 150 years, also consider consulting photography books:

Photography--England--History--19th century 
Photography--France--History--19th century 
Photography--Spain--History--20th century  
Photography--United States--History--19th century 

Architectural photography 
Architectural photography--History 
Architectural photography--Europe 
Photography of interiors 
  • Be aware of a formulaic Subject Heading that goes Photography of ________, where the blank may be filled in with any appropriate noun:Photography of children, Photography of families, Photography of food, Photorgraphy of interiors, Photography of men, Photography of women, etc

Design: Light & Sound

Selected Theatre Web Sites

Contact Us

picture of Dr. Brian Saunders

Dr. Brian Saunders

Humanities Librarian
(607) 274-1198

Finding Visuals

Finding Visuals in the IC Library

  • Searching
     Your best bet is simply to run a Subject or Keyword search on what you want pictures of--canals or country houses, cars or carpets, casinos or cathedrals--and then browse these materials for pictures.
  • Browsing
     There are sections of the library collection where it might be most efficient simply to browse for illustrations. Below are some likely call number ranges and the corresponding Subject categories:

  • 500-2370: Costume, Dress, Fashion
GV: Dancing [dance works tend to be lavishly illustrated]
NA: Architecture, including public buildings and domestic architecture
ND: Painting
NK: Decorative Arts
  • 1700-2195: Interior Decoration
  • 2200-2750: Furniture
  • 4700-4890: Costume
TR: Photography
  • 624-835 Applied Photography [books of photographs]
TT: Arts and Crafts, including furniture making, upholstering, dressmaking, hairdressing, and high fashion

     For styles from the past 150 years, try browsing some of the Library's bound periodicals (4th floor, Towers side):
  • Century Magazine (1881-1924): AP2 .C4
  • Harpers (1850-1916): AP2 .H3
  • Life (1937-2000): AP2 .L548
  • New Yorker (1948-2000): AP2 .N6763
  • Vanity Fair (1913-1936): AP2 .V32+
     These are all heavily illustrated with prints, photographs, and/or advertising.

Finding Visuals in IC Databases

Our premier image database, ARTstor can be a valuable resource for Theater Arts research--especially the "Advanced Search." When the "Basic Search" opens click on "Advanced Search" in the upper bar. In addition to the standard Keyword search, "Advanced" allows category searches of the image collection. Among the "Object Classification" options are Architecture, Decorative Arts and Interior Design, Fashion, Costume and Jewelry, and Garden and Landscape. These classifications can be combined with both Date Range and Geography. This allows you, for example, to run a search of all images of Decorative Arts and Interior Design between 1700 and 1800 in France--or between 1800 and 1900 in the United States. Or look at Costume and Jewelry from 1500 to 1600 in England.
Note: ARTstor requires Java and Flash Player, and you must have your browser set to allow cookies and your pop-up blocker disabled.

Theatre in Video
Streaming video of stage productions and movie adaptations. "Productions" represent all eras, from The Agamemnon and Oedipus Rex to Twelfth Night and The Alchemist to She Stoops to Conquer and Tartuffe to Krapp's Last Tape and To be Young, Gifted and Black. Also browse the "Documentaries" which include videos on the Renaissance Stage, Restoration Theater, and Kabuki or interviews with Arthur Miller, Lee Strasberg, Tennessee Williams, and John Gielgud.
Note: Theater in Video requires Flash Player v.8 or higher and a minimum of 400kbps of bandwidth. Also note: a limit of 5 simultaneous users.

Oxford Art Online  (part of Oxford Art Online)
Search "Images."

ProQuest Research Library  and others
Many of the IC Library databases will retrieve articles from the past 30-40 years either in pdf form with pictures intact or in HTML "with graphics." If you want to target photographs, in ProQuest set "Document type" to Image/Photograph. In Academic Search Premier  set "Image Quick View Types" to Black & White Photograph and/or Color Photograph and/or Illustration.

Finding Visuals on the Web

Google ImagesBing Images, Imagesand others
Chances are your favorite Web search engine has an image search. Google, Bing, and do an excellent job. Just remember that no one has added any standardized vocabulary or subject categories here, so you are trying to match your search terms to people's image captions. In other words, be flexible.

Over 275,000 images from the New York Public Library. There are broad categories such as "Cities & Buildings" and "Culture & Society" which lead you to more specific collections. For example, under "Culture & Society" there is a "Dress and Fashion" collection, an "Empire and Regency" decorative arts collection, and a "Theatre Productions and Players" collection.

Wikimedia Commons is a database of over ten million media files.

Related Visuals Guides

See the Fine Arts Librarian Jennifer Strictland's subject guide for Photography, which can point you to many good Web resources, as well as her guide for Public Domain Material: Images, Audio, Scores & Books.

Finding Articles

Recommended Databases

     This is our dedicated database for Theatre and Dance. If you open up the drop-down menu for either of the top two search slots, you can switch the default "anywhere except full text" to more targeted search fields. In particular, note that you can search for a specific "person" or performing arts "company" or, best of all, a "creative work." This allows you to run a Subject search on the title of any play or dance piece.  Whereas a keyword search on the title of a creative work will retrieve any mention of that title--no matter how fleeting--a Subject search on the title will only return articles that are substantially about that work.
     Also note the Subject search slots under "More Search Options." The "look up" links to broad and narrow subjects to the right of these are especially useful in finding the appropriate Subject Heading for your topic. The  "look up broad subjects" can be very temperamental, but "look up narrow subjects" works well. Just type in Theater or Dance or Design for extensive lists of the available Subject searches in those areas--or try more specific terms relevant to your topic.
     Finally, notice that under "Document Type" you can target artcles, interviews, or a wide variety of reviews: performance, theatre, film, television, or recording. Under "Document Feature" you can likewise target articles with illustrations or photographs.

General OneFile :
     A comprehensive database with a default Subject search. Whatever Subject Heading you search, you will be offered links to "Subdivisions" and "Related Subjects." Take a look at the dozens of "Related Subjects" offered for an initial search on "Theater" or "Dance." These include Theater set design, Theater set designers, Theater Production, Costume, Costume designers, Fashion design, Stage lighting, Theater sound equipment, and Special effects (Performing arts).
     Once you've discovered the Subject that best matches your interest, look at the "Subdivisions" for it. The standard "subdivisions" for General OneFile Include "Economic Aspects," "Employment," "Forecasts and Trends," "History," "Management," "Social Aspects," and "Statistics." If the retrievals for these categories are still too broad, use the the "Search within these Results" slot at the upper left to enter some Keywords.
     If you want to focus on a particular play or show, use the "Advanced search," enter the title, and select "Named Work" from the drop-down menu of search fields. If you type in War Horse, for instance, the autofill will offer you War Horse (Play), War Horse (Motion picture) or War Horse (Novel). This makes it easy to isolate just the play related articles.
Note: Whenever you open your first page of retrievals in General OneFile, you are viewing ONLY the articles from magazines. If you wish to see your retrievals from more scholarly sources you must click on the "Academic Journals" tab at the top.

MLA International Bibliography :
    MLAIB provides the most complete and fully indexed coverage of articles and books on modern literatures, linguistics, folklore, rhetoric, and composition from 1925 to the present. There is ample full text provided by ProQuest, as well as links to full-text articles in JSTOR and Project Muse. Full text from other IC databases is also readily available via the "GetIt" links below article citations.

     Because books, book chapters/essays, and dissertations will usually not be available full text, you may wish to limit your search to "Journal article" under "Source type."
     "Author's Work" and "Author as Subject" will be especially helpful search fields at finding literary criticism. Author's Work field allows you to run a Subject search on any play, guaranteeing topical focus, not just mention of the play. And for additional search field options either click on "Show more fields," or, for the complete list, open the drop-down menus to the right of the "Anywhere" default for the top three rows of search slots. This list includes both "Literary Influence"--who influenced a particular author you have entered--and "Literary Source"--who was influenced by that particular author.

Academic Search Premier  
    Comprehensive subject coverage with considerable full text.  Note that there is a “Subject Terms” link just above the search boxes, allowing you to search the index of Subject Headings--often a good first stop for more efficient Subject searching whereby you are guaranteed that your topic is indeed a main subject of the articles retrieved.
     A good initial strategy in this database is to search a likely topic in the Subject Terms and when you find it “explode” the term by double clicking it--this brings up a list of related Subject terms.  You can check as many terms as you like before "adding" them to your search by AND-ing or OR-ing them together. Among the Subjects available here are Theatrical scenery, Set design, Set builders & building, Set designers, Costume, Costume design, Stage lighting, Theaters--sound effects, Sound designers & design, Theaters--special effects, and Theatrical makeup.

    JSTOR covers a wide range of 100% full text journals in most disciiplines, including Theatre, Art and Art History, and Architecture.  And unlike most databases that can only go back 30-40 years, JSTOR can retrieve articles back to the late 19th century.  

     JSTOR offers only a Keyword search of its complete full text, so retrievals are large. Be sure to put phrases such as play titles or peoples names in quotation marks to search the words as a single unit.  

ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) :
 Check the Thesaurus for suitable Subject Headings. Among those availabe are here are Theater, Stage sets, Theatrical costume, and Theater and art.

Citation Help

MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.