Shakespeare: Visions of Rome – Call For Papers

Call for Papers: Shakespeare: Visions of Rome

We invite essay submissions (c. 6000 words including notes) for a special issue of Shakespeare, the journal of the British Shakespeare Association, on the topic of Shakespeare: Visions of Rome, planned for publication in 2019.

William Shakespeare’s engagement with Rome spanned his entire career. References and allusions to the Roman world are interspersed throughout his poetic and dramatic oeuvre, which hosts as many as six works that can be categorized as ‘Roman’: Lucrece, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Cymbeline. This group is easily susceptible of increasing to seven units upon realizing that Troilus and Cressida, albeit ostensibly Greek in setting, is in fact widely informed by the myth of the Trojan origins of the Britons and the idea of a north-westward translatio imperii from Troy through Rome to Britain via the emigration of Brute, Aeneas’s legendary great-grandson.

A major influence on Shakespeare’s imagination, Roman history, with its intense dramatic potential and fascinating inconsistencies, proved to be a key constituent in his craft and art. Indeed, Shakespeare’s exploration of Rome’s contradictory duplicity readily exemplifies the incendiary network of negotiations and appropriations between past and present that characterized any appropriations of the Roman past in early modern literature and culture. All of Shakespeare’s Roman plays ultimately offer an invariably complex and enthralling blend of historical actuality and dramatic fiction – a dazzling, captivating and sometimes even disturbing mixture, within which history was shaped anew each time like an amendable palimpsest, and the past was reactivated by a present that it simultaneously contributed to moulding.

In the wake of the renewed and vigorous scholarly interest the reception of the Roman past in early modern English literature and culture has attracted at least since 2010, this issue of Shakespeare seeks to explore the role, relevance and meaning of Rome throughout Shakespeare’s oeuvre. Essays might consider (but are not limited to) any of the following topics:

  • analyses of single Roman plays or characters
  • comparative analyses of Roman plays or characters
  • constancy VS fickleness
  • gender issues
  • rape/violence
  • Roman female as opposed to male characters
  • Roman history as a source
  • Roman suicide
  • the impact of ancient Rome on attitudes towards constitutional issues and the empire
  • the influence of stoicism and republicanism and the bearings of Roman political ideas upon debates relating to sovereignty, citizenship and absolutism
  • the links between Rome and Catholicism
  • the relationship between ancient Rome and English (or British) national identity
  • the Roman body as a site of contention
  • topical application of Roman history
  • rhetoric and the influence of Latin

This is by no means an exhaustive or constrictive list, and we invite contributions for papers that critically evaluate and extend our knowledge of this area of enquiry.

Shakespeare is a major peer-reviewed journal, publishing articles drawn from the best international research on the most recent developments in Shakespearean criticism, historical and textual scholarship, and performance. For more information on the journal and submission guidelines, please visit the Shakespeare journal homepage.
Submission information

Please send expressions of interest in the form of a 250-word abstract and 150-word brief author biography to the guest editor, Domenico Lovascio (, by 30 June 2017. Completed essays of c. 6000 words (including notes) will be due by 30 May 2018. These submissions will be blind peer-reviewed before acceptance.