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FREN 5170: Francophone African Theater and Performance (Valente Quinn): Research Process

Research Topic

Your topic should facilitate a critical approach that integrates some of the theories covered in your course.

Your research topic may be born through different channels:

  • Read your syllabus carefully and pay attention to a topic covered in class that you found interesting and that you do not know much about it.
    • You may choose a topic that is related to the central theme of the course and is of interest to you.
  • Expand on a subject that is highlighted in one of the theatrical performances you watched and you found relevant.
  • Cover a topic (from your own optic) that was suggested in one of the books or articles you read.
  • Browse online media to gather topic ideas.
  • Browse background sources to gather topic ideas.
VERY NORMAL: Sometimes topics change as you move forward in your research process.

Research Question

Your research question will be related to your topic. This question usually answers a matter that has not been covered by previous scholarship.

Developing Research Questions: Your Purpose

Consider where your questions will lead you. Will your questions:

  • Compare and contrast
    • How is play X alike or different from play Y?
    • How is dramatist X's contribution different from dramatist Y's?
    • How is the same topic covered by different francophone dramatists?
  • Associate your topic with another 
    • How did a topic happen in relation to another topic?
  • Interpret the state of your topic
    • Explain the significance of X and how you can measure this significance
  • Explore possibilities or outcomes
    • What are the consequences of X
    • How does X affect Y
  • Lead to a call for action or change
    • What are the recommendations you may offer to the issue presented in your paper?
  • Argue for a particular stance
    • Present opposing views and argue in favor or against a view

Exercise: Your Research Topic

See Strategy: Formulating Questions for more information.


Background Information

Background sources are really helpful at the beginning stages of your research process. These sources will give us ideas for research topics and keywords and even provide further information that may be useful.


My sample topic "Cameroonian Dramatists: Theatrical Expression through Comedy and Ritual Theatre" was born out of an article I read in Britannica.

Recommended Background Sources

Keywords and Related Terms

Keywords and related terms are those words and phrases that are related to the topic of your research. These terms may be synonymous with a word or a related term. We use keywords to enhance our searches and gather as much scholarship as we can in relation to a topic.

Look at the example below and see how these words are related to my topic:


My topic: Cameroonian Dramatists: Theatrical Expression through Comedy and Ritual Theatre

Keywords:        Related terms
University higher education
theatre francophone theater - plays - playwright 
Guillaume Oyono-Mbia dramatist; bilingual writer
Comedies Trois prétendants…un mari (1962); Le Train spécial de son excellence (1978); Notre fille ne see mariera pas! (1969)
  Themes: youth versus adult; modernity versus tradition
  analysis: character, staging, dialogue, narrative, performance (on stage or radio)
Côte d’Ivoire theatre companies: Atelier Théâtre Attoungblan; Sekedoua Company
Nicole Wéré-Wéré Liking Ki-Yi Mbock Theatre (Liking formed this group in Côte d’Ivoire) - "ritual theatre"
  La puissance de Um (1979) and Une nouvelle terre (1980)
  African ritual theatre: used music and dance
  analysis: character, staging, dialogue, narrative, performance


Boolean Operators

Boolean operators help you connect, expand or exclude your searches.


Guillaume Oyono-Mbia AND independence movements

Guillaume Oyono-Mbia AND bilingualism

Anne Ubersfeld AND Lire le théâtre AND semiotics

 Gustave Akakpo  AND drama OR "Théâtre togolais de langue française" 

 "post-colonial dramatists" OR "Togolese playwrights" AND Gustave Akapko NOT Kangni Alemdjrodo 

Slimane Benaïssa AND theatre AND exile AND trauma OR algerian people