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AFRI1110 Voices Beneath the Veil, African American Drama from 1858 to Present

A study of African-American history, life and cultures through the analyses of a sampling of plays from 1858-the Present written by Black authors. The pedagogical approach is to develop your critical thought process


Researching Plays in Journals and Newspapers

Specific Example: Materials relating to Adrienne Kennedy's play "Funnyhouse of a Negro"

Abstracts & Indexes

MLA Bibliography is the best source for CITATIONS to articles on literature. It is not primarily a full-text database. For works related to Kennedy's play:


  • Choose the "Advanced Search"
  • Type in "Kennedy Adrienne" and in "Select a Field" choose "SU Subjects (all)"
  • Type in "funnyhouse" in the text box below, and click Search

This should bring up 27 hits. SOME have linked full text; to find others in electronic versions, or hard copy, as available, click the FIND IT!  button and follow the menus presented. These menus may lead you to other linked full text, to print journals and anthologies at Brown University Library, or, if the journal/anthology is not at Brown, to local holdings, or, finally, to an inter-library loan request. The menus are intended to get you to the article the easiest and quickest way possible. 

To find other works on plays and drama:

  • Type in your search as appropriate and (scroll down) in the "Genre" box, choose "Drama". This will eliminate works relating to other genres.

  • If you get too many hits, revise your search to put on other relevant limits, such as "Period" (1900-1999 for example).

  • Specifying a range of "Publication Dates"(this will mean publication date of the ARTICLE, not the original work you are researching) is also a useful way to zero in on sources of interest.

  • As detailed above, some citations will have linked full text; for others, use the FIND IT! button.


Performing Arts Periodicals Database (formerly called IIPA) (full text) is an excellent source for articles on all aspects of drama and the performing arts. It also is full text for most of the materials in the journals included.

  • Typing "funnyhouse" in the Quick Search box will bring up 43 articles.

  • The "Search Articles" choice offers many options, including selecting from pre-defined list of authors, broad and narrow subjects, document types and special features.

  • You can also browse the journal list, and view them by subject

Comprehensive databases

Literature Online (LION) and Literature Resource Center (LRC) are good places to start for biographical information on authors, along with listings of their works, critical reviews and bibliographical references. There are several articles on Adrienne Kennedy in each database, and at least one of these cites interviews (always interesting!)


The Library subscribes to a number of newspaper packages for material covering the 19th and 20th centuries, including: National Newspapers Expanded [ProQuest], ProQuest Historical Newspapers, Ethnic NewsWatch [ProQuest], Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers [Gale], American Periodical Series.  You may also find the freely available database Chronicling America (Library of Congress) to be helpful.   

When using the ProQuest search platform, you can search individual newspapers, such as the New York Times (6/1/80 to present), or click on "Advanced Search" and then "News and Newspapers" to search multiple titles and/or multiple databases simultaneously.

Search tips:

  • It is often useful to search in the ABSTRACT of an article, since that distills the main points made. (Located on the pull-down menus that read by default "Citation and document text")
  • If you have a title with unusual words (as you do for the Kennedy play -- "funnyhouse") it's easy to search these in a "Citation and document text" search and get accurate results. Common words/names require more experimentation with search fields to avoid very large result sets.
  • Note that you can specify a range of dates, or limit to full text

Google Scholar

Google Scholar includes citations and links to SCHOLARLY articles. Not the usual wild mix of good material and junk that you get in plain old Google.

  • For your purposes right now, typing in "funnyhouse" will get some useful results.

  • Google Scholar includes links to Brown holdings. If there are no links to online text, use the citation information to search BruKnow to locate holdings or Borrowing Options to request an interlibrary loan.