Submission Date


Document Type




Second Department


Faculty Mentor

Susanna Throop

Second Faculty Mentor

Matthew Kozusko


Presented during the 20th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 20, 2018 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Measure for Measure has often been called one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, and as recent productions show, Measure’s problems — including sexual coercion and governmental corruption — resonate with readers and audiences today. Recent scholarship has examined sexual abstinence in Measure for Measure in terms of its historical economic and religious context, arguing that protagonist Isabella represents a radical break from merchant economics by opting out of the sexual economy. However, Angelo and the Duke, the play's other central characters, also make claims about the values of abstinence, and those claims are at odds with Isabella's claims. My research will put these claims into dialogue with each other in a broader historical context than recent scholarship. Locating Angelo, Isabella, and the Duke’s parallels in Shakespeare’s sixteenth-to-seventeenth-century English culture can further critical interpretation of the play and contribute to contemporary discussions of gender and morality. Through a close reading of Measure for Measure and period texts like The Rape of Lucrece, and extensive engagement with scholarship on Shakespearean England, my research investigates the dynamics of abstinence in the play.

Open Access

Available to all.