About The Program

Our intensive doctoral program in theatre, drama and performance culture prepares outstanding graduate students for lifetime careers in academia, simultaneously developing scholarly excellence and pedagogical skills.

The flexibility and robustness of the program places each student's agenda of intellectual pursuits at the forefront of his or her study. Students will work with committees matched to their unique interests to design a program of study that incorporates theatre with one or more other fields.

The program is highly interdisciplinary and draws widely on the academic resources of the School of Communication, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Music. This philosophy is implemented on a practical level by taking course work in various departments, drawing upon faculty and research resources in theatre studies and other areas, and conducting research that uses the materials, methods, and theories associated with more than one discipline.

The focus of recent dissertations highlights the many ways in which our graduate students explore the intersections of theatrical events with other disciplines:

  • Food rights performances
  • Theatrical discourse and national development in Ireland
  • Emergent ideologies in main-stream New York theatre
  • Women's cultural production in pre-independence Jamaica
  • Effects of “normalization” censorship on Czech playwriting
  • The theatricality of charity
  • The performance modes of North Korean propaganda operas
  • The political and social implications of nation, race, and community in the context of Japanese internment in World War II
  • Black liberation drama
  • Zimbabwean community theatre about HIV-AIDS
  • Jewish identity in American dance
  • Theorizing performances of the human-animal relationship
  • Contemporary Renaissance fairs as carnival

Students identify their own combination of fields early in their studies. This may involve theatre, drama, dance, or any other aspect of performance and an existing department or program at Northwestern, such as musicology, comparative literature, history, performance studies, or sociology. Or, it may involve a more esoteric or emergent combination, such as anthrozoology, globalization/circulation theory, or reception studies. Each graduate student is unique, and our program flexes to meet your needs and to respond to new developments in academic study.

We recognize the impact that practical knowledge of the theatre can have on the study of performance and drama and the many ways in which a background in theatre-making can inform your research. The lively and innovative theatre scene in the city is a fertile complement to the rich archival resources in the Chicago area.