Drama Long List

The PhD Oral Examination in Drama 


(Updated February 2018)



You will be asked about historical, thematic, and formal aspects of both individual plays and groups of plays, and about theoretical thinking associated with drama as a genre.  You should have seen productions (on stage or video) of at least six of the plays on your list.


In the case of an overlapping oral (when the period is rich in drama), the play lists must contain 40 plays that do not appear on the period lists.

They may be varied with the approval of the chair of the drama committee. Lists must also include six secondary works.

Classical: One play each by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Terence, and one additional play by these or another author.

Medieval: Everyman and one of the Corpus Christi cycles

Renaissance: By Shakespeare: two comedies, two tragedies, two histories, one romance, and one other play.  Two plays each by Marlowe and Jonson, and two other plays by them or by Beaumont and Fletcher, Cary, Middleton, Kyd, Lyly, Greene, and Webster.

Restoration/18th Century: Eight plays, including at least one each by Dryden, Congreve, Behn, Moliere, Sheridan, and additional plays from among Baillie, Centlivre, Cowley, Fielding, Gay, Goldsmith, Otway, Wycherley, and others.

19th Century/early 20th century: Eight plays, including at least one each by Brecht, Beckett, Chekhov, Ibsen,Miller,  O’Neill, Shaw, Synge, Wilde, and Williams, and two plays each by at least two of the aforementioned, plus additional three plays from among  Barrie, Boucicault, Bonner, Coward, Eliot, Genet, Gilbert, Glaspell, Gregory, Hansberry, Hellman, Ionsesco, James, Lorca, O’Casey, Pinero, Pirandello, Sartre, Shelley, Treadwell, Yeats, and others according to the interests of the examinee.  The examinee may choose to substitute for two of these works of modernist fiction that reflect interestingly on drama, such as Joyce’s Ulysses or Woolf’s Between the Acts.

Contemporary: Two plays each by Albee, Churchill, Mamet, Pinter, and Stoppard, and five more plays from the following or from other playwrights according to the interest of the examinee: Bernstein, Butterworth Carr, Dorfman, Friel, Fugard, Hwang, Kushner, McDonagh, Nelson, Nottage, Osborne, Parks, Shange, Shepherd,  Sondheim, Soyinka, Valdez, Vogel, Walcott, and Wilson.

Examinees with a particular interest in film may choose to substitute for 10-20 of the above works by Bergman, Capra, Chaplin, Eisenstein, Fellini, Ford, Godard, Griffith, Hawks, Hitchcock, Huston, Keaton, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Lang, Renoir, Truffaut, Welles, Wilder, and others in consultation with an adviser.

Suggested Secondary Works 
Choose six of the following books:

  1. Aristotle, Poetics 

  2. V. A. Kolve, The Play Called Corpus Christi 

  3. G. K. Hunter, English Drama, 1586-1642 

  4. Gordon Braden, Anger's Privilege: Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition 

  5. Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective, OR, Fools of Time 

  6. C L Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy

  7. A. D. Nuttall, A New Mimesis, Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality 

  8. Katharine Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance 

  9. Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy 

  10. Peter Holland, The Ornament of Action 

  11. Martin Meisel, Shaw and the 19th-Century Theatre 

  12. Austin Quigley, The Modern Stage and Other Worlds 

  13. Peter Szondi, Theory of Modern Drama 

  14. Benjamin Bennett, Theater as Problem 

  15. Eric Bentley, The Playwright as Thinker 

  16. Richard Gilman, The Making of Modern Drama 

  17. Stanley Cavell, Pursuits of Happiness, the Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage

  18. Martin Esslin, The Theater of the Absurd

  19. Pauline Kael, I Lost it at the Movies

  20. Peter Brook, The Empty Space

  21. Marvin Carlson, The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine

  22. Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance

  23. Michael Wood, America in the Movies

  24. David Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film

  25. Martin Puchner, The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy

  26. Elizabeteh Maddox Dillon, New World Drama


Choose three of the following essays:


John Dryden, “An Essay of Dramatic Poesy”

William Hazlitt, “On Wit and Humor”

Samuel Johnson, “Preface to the Plays of William Shakespeare”

Bertolt Brecht, “The Modern Theater is the Epic Theater”

Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"

bell hooks,  "The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectatorship"

Hwang, “Islands in the Mainstream”

Kott, “The Memory of the Body”

Brook, “What Is Shakepeare?”

Fugard, “Scenes from a Censored Life”

Ngugi wa Thiongo, “Enactments of Power: the Politics of Performance Space”

Wilson, “The Ground on which I Stand”

Thomas, “Wilson, Danton, and Me”