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:

  • Elizabeteh Maddox Dillon, New World Drama (2014) 

  • Martin Puchner, The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy (2010) 

  • David Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film (2007) 

  • Marvin Carlson, The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine (2003) 

  • G. K. Hunter, English Drama, 1586-1642 (1997) 

  • Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance (1996) 

  • Katharine Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance (1995) 

  • Benjamin Bennett, Theater as Problem (1990) 

  • Gordon Braden, Anger's Privilege: Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition (1985) 

  • Austin Quigley, The Modern Stage and Other Worlds (1985) 

  • Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy (1984) 

  • A. D. Nuttall, A New Mimesis, Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality (1983) 

  • Stanley Cavell, Pursuits of Happiness, the Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (1981) 

  • Peter Holland, The Ornament of Action (1979) 

  • Michael Wood, America in the Movies (1975) 

  • Richard Gilman, The Making of Modern Drama (1974) 

  • Peter Brook, The Empty Space (1968) 

  • V. A. Kolve, The Play Called Corpus Christi (1966) 

  • Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective (1965), OR, Fools of Time (1967) 

  • Pauline Kael, I Lost it at the Movies (1965) 

  • Martin Meisel, Shaw and the 19th-Century Theatre (1963) 

  • Martin Esslin, The Theater of the Absurd (1961) 

  • C L Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy (1959) 

  • Peter Szondi, Theory of Modern Drama (1956) 

  • Eric Bentley, The Playwright as Thinker (1946) 

  • Aristotle, Poetics (335 BC)


Choose three of the following essays:

  • Athol Fugard, “Scenes from a Censored Life” (2009) 

  • bell hooks, "The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectatorship" (2002) 

  • Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (1999) 

  • Ngugi wa Thiongo, “Enactments of Power: the Politics of Performance Space” (1997) 

  • August Wilson, “The Ground on Which I Stand” (1997) 

  • Richard Thomas, “Wilson, Danton, and Me” (1993) 

  • Jan Kott, “The Memory of the Body” (1992) 

  • David Henry Hwang, “Islands in the Mainstream” (1991) 

  • Bertolt Brecht, “The Modern Theater is the Epic Theater” (1930) 

  • Peter Brook, “What Is Shakespeare?” (1947) 

  • William Hazlitt, “On Wit and Humor” (1885) 

  • Samuel Johnson, “Preface to the Plays of William Shakespeare” (1765) 

  • John Dryden, “An Essay of Dramatic Poesy” (1668)