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FPA 317: Performance Studies research guide

This guide is intended to be an introduction to finding research materials to support your term paper assignment in performance studies.

If you do not find what you need, please contact Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian for Communication & Contemporary Arts for Contemporary Arts, at or 778.782.3681.  If I'm not available, you can get help using one of our Ask a Librarian services.


The Belzberg Library at SFU Vancouver has a small print collection of books and current journals.  The largest collection of print materials about performance studies will be found at the Bennett Library on the Burnaby campus, with additional materials in the Fraser Library at SFU Surrey. 


It takes about 2 working days, there's no cost to you and you'll get an email notice when they're ready to be picked up. You will need to use your library card to request and to borrow these materials.

Background sources

As well as your course readings, we have a variety of specialized encyclopedias with information about performance studies, such as:

Other disciplinary sources may provide useful perspectives on specific aspects of performance studies, such as play (Education, Sociology, Psychology) or ritual (Anthropology, Ethnology, Sociology).  SFU Library Research Guides list background resources that can help you understand these perspectives.  If you would like assistance finding the right source, Ask a Librarian.

Finding books & articles

Library Search searches library catalogue records and selected collections of full text journal articles. 

Performance studies is not a standard subject heading in the Library catalogue so you will need to be a bit creative when searching for books. Other useful search terms include:

  • Performance (especially combined with "philosophy", "semiotics", "social aspects", "political aspects")
  • Performance theory
  • Performance art
  • Performative (Philosophy)
  • Performativity
  • Performing arts
  • Experimental theater

To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.

Use these terms in keyword searches to find examples of scholarly studies of performance, such as:

Article indexes

Article indexes will provide you with the ability to search for articles published in both print and electronic journals.  This is important because some significant content may not be available in digital form.  The Where can I get this? llink in the journal indexes enable you to find digital copies of articles, if available at SFU, and to request copies of print articles from the Bennett (SFU Burnaby) or Fraser (SFU Surrey) libraries.

International Index to the Performing Arts
Multidisciplinary index to journals for the performing arts (drama, theater, dance, film, television).

Humanities & Social Sciences Index
Covers basic periodicals on all social sciences and humanities topics.

Communication & Mass Media Complete
Indexing & abstracts for over 550 journals in the fields of communication and mass media studies.

Music Index 
Index to reviews and journal articles on all aspects of music.

Art Full Text [formerly known as Art Index]

All aspects and periods of art.
Bibliographic index to journal articles, books and dissertations. Subjects covered include language, literature, linguistics, literary theory & criticism, dramatic arts, printing and publishing.
Theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and policy science.

Searchable collections of full text:

Full text articles from scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences.
Searchable, archival collection of core scholarly arts, humanities and social sciences journals.

Journals with significant performance studies content