Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Sara Deats, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marty Gould, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Starks-Estes, Ph.D.


Adaptation, Counter-Discursive Metatheatre, Early Modern Drama, Post-Colonial Drama


What role did identification play in the motives, processes, and products of select post-colonial authors who "wrote back" to William Shakespeare and colonialism? How did post-colonial counter-discursive metatheatre function to make select post-colonial adaptations creative and critical texts? In answer to these questions, this dissertation proposes that counter-discursive metatheatre resituates post-colonial plays as criticism of Shakespeare's plays. As particular post-colonial authors identify with marginalized Shakespearean characters and aim to amplify their conflicts from the perspective of a dominated culture, they interpret themes of race, gender, and colonialism in Othello (1604), Antony and Cleopatra (1608), and The Tempest (1611) as explicit problems. This dissertation combines post-colonial theory and other literary theory, particularly by Kenneth Burke, to propose a rhetoric of motives for post-colonial authors who "write back" to Shakespeare through the use of counter-discursive metatheatre. This dissertation, therefore, describes and analyzes how and why the plays of Murray Carlin, Aimé Césaire, and Derek Walcott function both creatively and critically, adapting Shakespeare's plays, and foregrounding post-colonial criticism of his plays.

Chapter One analyzes Murray Carlin's motivations for adapting Othello and using the framing narrative of Not Now, Sweet Desdemona (1967) to explicitly critique the conflicts of race, gender, and colonialism in Othello. Chapter Two treats why and how Aimé Césaire adapts The Tempest in 1969, illustrating his explicit critique of Prospero and Caliban as the colonizer and the colonized, exposing Prospero's insistence on controlling the sexuality of his subjects, and, therefore, arguing that race, gender, and colonialism operate concomitantly in the play. Chapter Three analyzes A Branch of the Blue Nile (1983) as both a critique and an adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra, demonstrating how Walcott's framing narrative critiques the notion of a universal "Cleopatra," even one of an "infinite variety," and also evaluates Antony as a character who is marginalized by his Roman culture. The conclusion of this dissertation avers that in "writing back" to Shakespeare, these authors foreground and reframe post-colonial criticism, successfully dismantling the colonial structures that have kept their interpretations, and the subjects of their interpretations, marginalized.