Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The study of "The Vanquished Christ in Modern Passion Drama" selects from the anthropocentric passion imagery in over fifty modern plays written in English between 1864 and 1980. By focusing on the modern passion dramas which appeared during the 1920s and in the postmodern period coinciding with the conflict in Vietnam of 1957 through 1973, the main thrust of this research reveals the modern poetic vision of the Christ figure of passion persona who, like mankind at war, is threatened with extinction. The modern, radical poetic vision differs from the traditional view of the passion demonstrated in pageants such as The Oberammergau Passion Play in that it replaces the theistic world view and typological interpretation of the Bible with the playwright's personal world view that reflects the death of God theology. In effect, the radical vision departs from two theistic paradigms: Christus victim, represented by the Oberammergau pageant, and Christus victor which is modeled after the dialogue between God and Job in the book of Job. In contrast, the vanquished paradigm illustrates the Oedipal experience of suffering that constitutes the tragic theology of an impersonal, malevolent power which tyrannizes mankind. The radical vision stems from three dramatic movements influenced by aestheticism, poetic anarchism and theatrical positivism. In the 1920s, these trends resulted in the literary and historical visions of the Christic passion. Three verse dramas in this study manifest the traits of aestheticism in their treatment of the passion. The historical view reveals the anarchism in three dramas as well. Theatrical positivism in the postmodern passion plays has resulted in modern creations of passion rituals and protests by which the playwrights, through theatrical means, aim to transform society's complacent attitude about militarism, mediocrity and other forms of tyranny.