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Isaiah Wooden

Assistant Professor



  2. Phone: (610) 690-3341
  3. Parrish Hall W223

Isaiah Matthew Wooden is a director-dramaturg, critic, and assistant professor of theater at Swarthmore. 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 forty articles, essays, and reviews 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 Journal, Theatre Survey, and Theatre Topics, among others. He is currently at work on a monograph that explores the interplay of race and time in post-civil rights Black expressive culture and is co-editing a volume on playwright August Wilson for Cambridge University Press’ “Literature in Context” series. He is also the co-editor of Tarell Alvin McCraney: Theater, Performance, and Collaboration (Northwestern UP, 2020).

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 of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Executive Board of the American Theatre and Drama Society, and the Editorial Boards for Imagined Theatres, PAJ, and Theatre Topics. He previously served as the Performance Review Editor of Theatre Journal and on the Executive Board of the Black Theater Association.

Wooden has directed new and canonical works in the US and abroad, including plays by Lee Breuer, Kia Corthron, Eisa Davis, Lorraine Hansberry, 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 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