Date of Completion


Embargo Period



translation, adaptation, gender, early modern drama, humanism, shakespeare, roman plays

Major Advisor

Gregory Semenza

Associate Advisor

Clare Costley King'oo

Associate Advisor

Jean Marsden

Field of Study


Open Access

Open Access


Englishing Rome examines early modern English plays set in ancient Rome that interrogate humanist beliefs about translation’s ability to convey meaning and the consequences of translated texts shaping English behaviors and beliefs. It is comprised of two sections: one that examines plays that are, in some sense, about translation (that discuss and perform acts of translation) and another that considers plays that are the result of translation (adapted from a classical text). Although scholars have focused primarily on translation as a means of national improvement, I argue for a more fraught relationship between translation and Roman heritage, finding tension in the many moments of mistranslation and misunderstanding. Englishing Rome affords careful attention to how meaning shifts as Roman texts and the idea of Rome itself are translated and adapted in early modern England, exploring both positive and negative portrayals of translation and the humanist belief in the benefit of classical exempla. The first two chapters trace two main arguments about humanism: one which suggests humanist translation fails to develop right-thinking individuals, and another which argues for the positive potential of classical texts when curated and mediated. The second section explores the consequences of the wider circulation of classical material through the ramifications of the widespread interpretation of Lucrece and Cleopatra as emblems of chastity and inconstancy. Through the Roman plays’ interrogation of the interaction between the foreign and the domestic, playwrights reflect and trouble the role that translated Roman texts played in shaping English life and literature.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2030