Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Evelyn Gajowski

Second Committee Member

Charles Whitney

Third Committee Member

Anne Stevens

Fourth Committee Member

Elspeth Whitney

Number of Pages



This dissertation analyzes four contemporary theatrical productions of two canonical Jacobean plays: John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (1612) and William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1606). Considered in the context of the critical presentism, the two playtexts resonate with both early modern and contemporary concerns about: dark/black and light/white as moral and racial signifiers; female subjectivity and embodiment; queer sexuality; and issues of power and control informed by gender performativity and racial construction. This project investigates the 1972 BBC Worldwide made-for-television adaptation of The Duchess of Malfi, directed by James MacTaggart and starring Eileen Atkins as the Duchess; the 2018 production of The Duchess of Malfi played live at The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK, directed by Maria Aberg and starring Joan Iyiola as the Duchess; the 2015 release of the filmed performance of Antony and Cleopatra for the Canadian Stratford Festival, directed by Barry Avrich and starring Yanna McIntosh as Cleopatra and Geraint Wyn Davies as Antony; and the 2017 RSC filmed production of Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Iqbal Khan and starring Josette Simon as Cleopatra and Antony Byrne as Mark Antony. It asserts that performance reveals material, cultural, and linguistic mechanisms by which social categories of gender and race intersect to construct and embody female protagonists, while simultaneously illuminating the instability and tenuousness of identity.


Digital adaptation; Embodiment and intersectionality; Jacobean; Performance; presentism; Subjectivity and identity


English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Theatre and Performance Studies

File Format


File Size

2.9 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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