W. B. Worthen headshot

W. B. Worthen

Alice Brady Pels Professor in the Arts; Chair of Department of Theatre, Barnard College; Co-Chair, Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance, Columbia University; Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; Professor, Division of Theatre, School of the Arts, Columbia University




336D Milbank Hall, Barnard
By appointment via email


Before joining Barnard's faculty in 2008, W. B. Worthen taught at the University of Michigan, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Davis, Northwestern University, and University of Texas at Austin. He has been a visiting professor at Columbia University, taught at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College, and was a founding faculty member of the International Centre for Advanced Theatre Studies, University of Helsinki. He is also appointed in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, and in the Theatre Division, School of the Arts, Columbia University. He is Co-Chair of the Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance at Columbia. 

Worthen has received numerous awards and grants, including the J.L. Styan Collegiate Professorship, University of Michigan, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; he has also won teaching awards from the University of Texas, Northwestern University, and University of Michigan. Most recently, he has been a fellow of the "Interweaving Performance Cultures," International Research Center of the Free University, Berlin. He is the past editor of the professional journals Modern Drama and Theatre Journal, and a winner of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Research Award.

At Barnard he teaches a range of courses in drama and performance theory, modern theatre, and Shakespeare and performance, as well as chairing the Department of Theatre; at Columbia, he co-chairs the Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance, teaching in that program and the Department of English and Comparative Literature as well. He is the author of several books ranging across drama, theatre, and performance studies, the editor of critical collections, and of The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama and Modern Drama: Plays/Criticism/Theory. His work has appeared in PMLA, TDR, Shakespeare Quarterly, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, Shakespeare Bulletin, Performance Research, and other professional journals.  He is currently the editor of the Cambridge University Press Elements series: Shakespeare Performance.

  • Ph.D., English literature, Princeton University
  • B.A., summa cum laude, English literature, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • Drama and performance studies
  • Modern drama and performance
  • Shakespeare

Shakespeare, Technicity, Theatre (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2020).


Shakespeare Performance Studies (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).


Drama: Between Poetry and Performance (Blackwell-Wiley, 2010).


Print and the Poetics of Modern Drama (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006).


Shakespeare and the Force of Modern Performance (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003).


Shakespeare and the Authority of Performance (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997).


Modern Drama and the Rhetoric of Theater (Univ. of California Press, 1992).


The Idea of the Actor (Princeton Univ. Press, 1984).


Editor, The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, sixth edition (Wadsworth, 2010).


Editor, Modern Drama: Plays/Criticism/Theory (Harcourt Brace, 1995).

Editor, with Barbara Hodgdon, A Companion to Shakespeare and Performance (Blackwell, 2005).


Editor, with Peter Holland, Theorizing Practice: Redefining Theatre History (Palgrave, 2003).


Editor, with Ric Knowles and Joanne Tompkins, Modern Drama: Defining the Field (University of Toronto Press, 2003).


Editor, with Helka Mäkinen and S. Wilmer, Theatre History and National Identities (Helsinki: University of Helsinki Press, 2001).

"Media Archaeology/Theatre Ideology." International Shakespeare Association Quadriennial Conference, July 2021.

"Zooming Shakespeare." Shakespeare Association of America, March 2021.

"Immersive, Interactive, Democratic, 'Original': Shakespeare You Can Throw Beer At," Annual Barnard College Faculty Lecture, April 2019.

"Hamlet's Face," Humanities Center, University of California at Irvine, February 2017.

"Mediatizing Hamlet," Rector's Lecture, University of Łodz, Poland, March 2016.




"Zoom; or, Obsolescence." TDR: The Drama Review 65.3 (2021), forthcoming.

"Introduction: Stage Performance." Ghostly Fragments: Essays on Shakespeare and Performance. By Barbara Hodgdon. Ed. Richard Abel and Peter Holland. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021.

"The Whirligig of Tech: Theater as Media Archaeology." Forgotten Futures, Neglected Histories of Interweaving. Ed. Holger Hartung, forthcoming.

"Undeadness." Performance Beyond  Drama, special issue of Journal of Medieval and Early Modern  Studies 51.3 (2021): 497-507.

"The Fourth Wall." Pirandello Today. Ed. Patricia Gaborik. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

"Preface: Performing Russia." Russian Performances: Word, Object, Action. Ed. Julie Buckler, Julie Cassiday, Boris Wolfson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2019.

"Shakespearean Technicity." Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Performance. Ed. James Bulman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

"Free Reign? Designing the Spectator in Immersive Theatre." Routledge Companion to Scenography. Ed. Arnold Aronson. London: Routledge, 2018. 302-10.

"(Inter)disciplinary Change." Theatre, Performance, and Social Change. Ed. Stephani Woodridge and Tamara Underiner. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 323-32.

"Interactive, Immersive, Original Shakespeare." Shakespeare Bulletin 35.3 (2017): 407-24.

"Dealing" (play) and "Commentary." Imagined Theatres. Ed. Daniel Sack. London: Routledge, 2017.

"Shakespeare / Performance." Shakespeare In Our Time: A Shakespeare Association of America Collection. Ed. Dympna Callaghan and Suzanne Gossett. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Shax the App.” Shakespeare and Textual Studies. Ed. Margaret Jane Kidnie and Sonia Massai. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 212-30.

"The Shakespeare Performance Campus." Campus Shakespeare. Ed. Andrew Hartley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.


In The News

W. B. Worthen, chair of the Department of Theatre, talks about his newest book and the theatre as technology.

October 19, 2020