Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Ken Jackson


Largely informing my dissertation is my experience growing up and teaching in a border town. I grew up in a Mexican family where education, especially higher education is considered a luxury—especially for women. While my parents supported me as I continued my education, many women within the Mexican culture aren’t necessarily encouraged to go to college. And, if they do attend college, it’s not completely understood why. Adding to growing up with this way of thinking, I also grew up and currently teach in a border town, where many of the students who attend school in El Paso cross from Mexico into the United States every day. My experiences as a Latina and as a teacher at a border institution in the current political climate that is somewhat aggressive towards immigrants, thus, not only inform my research heavily grounded in feminist studies, but focuses my attention on plays and / or characters that are often overlooked, both by scholars and play-goers.

The framing chapters of the dissertation offer a presentist connection between two of Shakespeare’s plays—The Merchant of Venice and Cymbeline—with issues concerning contemporary society. Chapter 1 looks at the similarities between the lottery in The Merchant of Venice and the Diversity Visa Program initiated in the United States. While both lotteries seemingly are meant to diversify the pool of candidates, what my research indicates is that both actually serve to maintain heteronormative conditions. The final chapter also offers a presentist perspective on one of Shakespeare’s romances, Cymbeline. Through this play, in not only reviewing a lesser-known play, I analyze how the rhetoric of rape is used to exercise and sustain patriarchal power. In Chapter 2, I offer a close reading of As You Like It through an ecofeminist perspective. While Rosalind is the main character and the one female character with the most lines in all of Shakespeare, the focus of my research is on one of Shakespeare’s most overlooked heroines—Phoebe. And in the third chapter, I analyze another one of Shakespeare’s plays often overlooked in scholarship and in performance, Coriolanus.