Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Adam Kitzes


For over four hundred years, Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted from text to the visual realizations on the stage and later the screen. Scholarship has attended to the playscript and the performance, but it has largely neglected the position of the costume as a bridge between the literary past and contemporary adaptation. This project contends that costumes as adaptations themselves play a significant role in contemporary constructions of the literary past. In particular, the project attends to the contribution of costumes in the visualization of Shakespeare’s histories on screen. To explore this topic, the project considers several aspects. Specifically, the project attends to how pasts are represented on screen, how Shakespeare’s scripts and prior adaptations impact costume representations of the literary past, and how the contemporary costume designer builds a representation of the literary past. The project concludes that costumes are multivalent and indicates several points of consideration. First, the project suggests that the temporal displacement of costumes representing the literary past signal their performativity. Next, the connection costumes offer between their adapted literature and the visual realization results in mimetic in distortions based on contemporary concerns, which contribute to the palimpsestic work of adaptations. Finally, the adaptation’s moment of creation is the filter by which Shakespeare’s playscript and all other material contribute to the construction of a costume, resulting in a unique presentation. Ultimately, the costume is a dynamic material object that supports a literary present and past, both immediate and not.