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Eng 102 THTR 210 Cardoza/Andersen: Home

Play Library Resource Guide

Play Research and Historical Analysis Assignment

This LibGuide is designed to assist you with arguing something significant about your selected play's depiction of it's: historic time period, a historic event associated with the play, or the aftermath of the period/event.  The variables to consider include:

  • historical period or historic event
  • political climate
  • sociological climate of the time or characters
  • economic situation (prosperity, depression, poverty)
  • psychological aspects of the time or the characters
  • why the playwright wrote this play (relevancy to one's own life experience, sociological/political awareness, time and place trend)
  • analysis of the depiction as viewed through the eyes of the time or in reflection
  • multiculturalism, interculturalism, transculturalism

The library is available to assist in your research.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact librarian Neil Siegel.  His cell phone # is 775-376-4018 and he is available from 8:30 am - 10:00 pm daily.

Each database will have a tab introducing you to library resources associated with plays. These resources can be accessed using your MyTMCC/Canvas login. 

From the Instructor:

Historical Analysis Essay:

The Assignment: Choose a play we have studied or will study in this course (Laramie Project, Carlisle, Fences, Zoot Suit, Hamilton, or Disgraced) which can be analyzed by also researching the historical event that informed the play. Do not choose the same play you chose for your Diversity Character Analysis Essay. You may analyze another play based on a historical event that was not assigned in this course if you like, but you must discuss it with us first. Your analysis should center around a thesis/claim that argues something significant about the play’s depiction of the historical event or its aftermath based on copious amounts of evidence from the primary source(s) (the play in question from THTR 210 and any additional primary readings from ENG 102) and from at least four additional sources (historical sources on the event, biographical information of key characters, or analytical pieces about the play or playwright’s work) that help you discuss the depiction of history in the play according to your thesis/claim. You need to cite your sources using both MLA in-text citation format and a Works Cited page. You may use one of the sources provided for THTR 210, but you must research the other three and provide those in the Annotated Bibliography for ENG 102.

Analyzing a play by looking at how it depicts a historical event means conducting another close reading of the play and diving into the event itself. Here are some questions to help you dig deeper into your analysis. You should touch on all of these aspects in your paper. 

What is the historical period being depicted?

What were the historical, political, economic, sociological and/or psychological contexts of the time in which this play was written?

 Why did the playwright choose to depict this period in the way he/she did?

What biographical information helps us understand this?

Was the play written during the time of the event or after?

How does knowing this context inform your analysis?

How does the play demonstrate multiculturalism, interculturalism, and transculturalism within the historical context?

Why does the playwright depict culture in these ways?

How do the forces of protagonism (your heroes) and the forces of antagonism (your villains) interact in the play?

How is this interaction consistent with or in contrast to the original historical event?

How does the climax of the play correlate with the historical event?

Why did the playwright choose to end the play in this manner?

What is the ultimate message here?

How does the play use spectacle (staging, lighting, scenery, costumes, props)?

In what ways are these consistent or in contrast to the historical period?

Why did the playwright choose to use spectacle as he/she has?

How is the language used in the play important?

Where is the language coming from the historical context?

What language is coming from a diverse cultural context?

How does the language help us understand the play’s diverse nature?

 Tutoring Credit: Tutoring is required for one of the first two essays. Make an appointment with our embedded tutor to complete this requirement. You will earn an additional 5 points on your grade for fulfilling this requirement. To get this extra credit, you will need to fill out the tutoring report form distributed with this assignment sheet.