Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Hutcheson, Greg

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Beattie, Pamela

Committee Member

Beattie, Pamela

Committee Member

Stanev, Hristomir

Committee Member

Dietrich, Julia

Author's Keywords

don quixote; the tempest; titus andronicus; early modern literature; reader-response methodology; intertextuality


This dissertation analyzes how the protagonists of Don Quixote and The Tempest perform the act of reading. It explores how the authors create interpretive communities within their works and bring them into conflict in order to foreground the dysfunctionality of particular types of reading. While functional readers are capable of reading among and beyond diverse interpretive communities, dysfunctional readers operate within a single community to the exclusion of other possible interpretations. Chapter One examines Cervantes’s creation of multiple interpretive communities within the first six chapters of Don Quixote, and how Don Quixote acts as dysfunctional reader through his inability to read beyond an interpretive community of his own creation. Chapter Two jumps to Don Quixote’s visit to a Barcelona print shop (Part II), where he is made aware of the complex interactions of diverse interpretive communities in the production of the printed book, and of how others have made him the object of their own dysfunctional readings. Chapter Three turns to The Tempest’s Prospero, who acts as a dysfunctional reader when he attempts to govern his island exclusively through the power of his books. Ironically, his functionality as both father and governor of his dukedom is restored only when he renounces his books. Chapter Four explains how two of Shakespeare’s heroines (The Tempest’s Miranda and Titus Andronicus’s Lavinia) model functional reading to the male readers around them. With this dissertation, I hope to lay the groundwork for more robust intertextual readings of these two Early-Modern literary masters.