Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Simone R. Chess


The dissertation examines how Jewish figures in early modern plays, prose, and poetry moved beyond the uncomplicated medieval image of murderous villain and towards a more reasoned consideration of the Jew's position in Christianity as well as in English life. While there has been significant scholarship on early modern representations of Jews, particularly in drama, these studies have not examined how Paul's Letter to the Romans, in forming much of Reformation doctrine, was also crucial in forming attitudes towards and representations of literary and living Jews. My project uniquely combines history, biblical studies, and literary analysis to reveal how early modern treatment of Jews and Judaism were inextricably tied to Reformation theology which was grounded in Romans. This new perspective shifts the discourse away from the question of whether or not there was early modern anti-Semitism, and toward a more nuanced reading of the ideologies and evidence that motivated these representations and behaviors. Inherently interdisciplinary, my dissertation is informed by the ways in which the humanities (history, religious studies, language, literature and the arts) converge to become the driving force behind human interactions.