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Isaiah Wooden

Assistant Professor

Department Chair, Theater



  2. Eugene M. and Theresa Lang Performing Arts Center 307

Isaiah Matthew Wooden is a director-dramaturg, critic, and assistant professor of theater at Swarthmore College. He received his AB in Government from Georgetown University and earned his PhD in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. 

A scholar of twentieth- and twenty-first century African American art, drama, and performance, Wooden has contributed more than sixty articles and essays to scholarly and popular publications, including The Black Scholar, CallalooJournal of American Drama and Theatre, Journal of Dramatic Theory and CriticismModern Drama, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Performing Ethos, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, Theater, Theatre Annual, Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, and Theatre Topics, among others. He is currently completing two book projects: a monograph entitled Reclaiming Time (under contract with Northwestern University Press) and a co-edited volume entitled August Wilson in Context (under contract with Cambridge University Press). He is also the co-editor of Tarell Alvin McCraney: Theater, Performance, and Collaboration (Northwestern University Press, 2020) and a special section of Theatre History Studies entitled “Manifestos for Black Theatre, Then and Now."

The recipient of multiple fellowships and awards, including the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, the DARE Doctoral Fellowship, the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the S. Randolph Edmonds Young Scholar Award, Wooden has presented research at national and international conferences and has given invited talks at multiple colleges and universities. He serves on the Governing Council for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Executive Boards for the American Theatre and Drama Society and the August Wilson Society, and the Editorial Boards for Imagined Theatres, PAJ, and Theatre Topics. He previously served as the Performance Review Editor for Theatre Journal and on the Executive Board for the Black Theater Association.

Wooden has directed projects in venues ranging from the Uganda National Theatre to the Kennedy Center, including works by Lee Breuer, Kia Corthron, Eisa Davis, Lorraine Hansberry, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Charles L. Mee, Lynn Nottage, Robert O’Hara, A. Rey Pamatmat, Natsu Onoda Power, Nilaja Sun, and Mary Zimmerman. Recent dramaturgy projects include The Scottsboro Boys by David Thompson, John Kander, and Fred Ebb, Native Son by Nambi E. Kelley, and the world premiere of Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of a Native Son by Psalmayene 24.

Prior to joining the faculty at Swarthmore, Wooden taught at American University, Brandeis University, and Georgetown University. He enjoys teaching a range of courses in the history, theory, and practice of theater. For more on his research and creative work, please visit