Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies


Journalism and Media Studies

Advisor 1

Gary Larson, Committee Chair

First Committee Member

Gregory Borchard

Second Committee Member

Anthony Ferri

Graduate Faculty Representative

Felicia Campbell

Number of Pages



In 2005, the Home Box Office and British Broadcasting Corporation partnered to produce Rome , a television series that retells the Roman histories of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony and Augustus through the lives of two centurion soldiers, Titus Pullo and Lucious Vorenus. The show's producers endeavored to bring Roman streets to life and included more storylines of women, men and children of all classes. At first considered a more egalitarian approach to history, Rome 's women are said to "challenge expectations" (Vu, 2005) and "forge a new path" (Ragalie, 2007, p. 2). But does this new representation challenge the old , sexist thinking that governed ancient Rome (and that continues to limit gender roles in modern society)? Or does it reify it? This semiotic, feminist analysis of the HBO television series, Rome , asks how the show reifies and critiques patriarchal ideals. It compares the way brotherhood and sisterhood are framed through narrative and visual elements, like characterization, dialogue, plot, camera angle and color. The asexual, same-sex relationships between Pullo and Vorenus and Atia and Servilia are selected as signifiers of brotherhood and sisterhood. The difference in the portrayal of brotherhood and sisterhood illustrates ways that patriarchal ideals are articulated, and feminist ideals are oppressed, in popular culture representations. This thesis argues that even though Rome 's producers claim to "set the stage for modern politics--infighting, corruption," the way that they set the stage, ironically, critiques contemporary ideas about gender and endorses the base upon which the corruption is built--patriarchy. By critiquing Rome , this thesis contributes to feminist media studies scholarship by showing how patriarchy is portrayed in media and how those messages contribute to our perception of sexist politics.


Brotherhood; Feminism; Gender discrimination; Gender politics; Home Box Office channel (HBO); Rome; Semiotics; Sisterhood; Television series


Film and Media Studies | Mass Communication | Women's Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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