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The PhD Oral Examination in


The examination will emphasize changing characteristics of the theater in different periods as well as interpretations of individual plays. You should have seen productions (on stage or video) of at least six of the plays on your list.

Lists should include between 40-45 plays. 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.

The bulk of your list should consist of Renaissance and modern plays. Following are general guidelines for the range and proportions of your selection. 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, and Seneca; and one by either Plautus or Terence.

Medieval: One morality play, one mystery play.

Renaissance: Four plays by Shakespeare, two each by Marlowe, Jonson and Middleton; one each by Kyd, Lyly, Greene, Webster, and Beaumont and Fletcher.

Restoration/18th Century: One tragedy by Dryden, one play each by Molière, Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, Aphra Behn, and Sheridan.

19th Century: One play each by Shaw, Wilde, and two other English d ramatists, plus one each by Chekhov and Ibsen.

20th Century: One play each by Shaw, Wilde, Synge, Strindberg, Yeats, O'Neill, Brecht, Pirandello, Williams, Beckett, Stoppard, Pinter, Soyinka, Caryl Churchill, and Mamet (among many others - you yourself must establish a focus in your selection of plays in this period). You may select films as well.

Suggested Secondary Works
Choose six of the following:

  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. A. D. Nuttall, A New Mimesis, Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality
  7. Katharine Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance
  8. Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning
  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

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