Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2013

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Jason Zysk


My thesis examines the relationship between sexuality and the destruction of images – iconoclasm – in the context of post-Reformation English theatre by analyzing three plays: Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Middleton and Rowley’s The Changeling, and Aphra Behn’s The Rover. I argue that the idea of sexual iconoclasm is not only present in these plays but also contributes to the discussion of the religious and sociopolitical contexts (and perhaps commentary) of these plays and early modern theatre in general. So what exactly is sexual iconoclasm? In short, it describes the destruction of sexual images, and by sexual images I mean ‘of sex,’ both individual sexuality and any depictions of sexual relationships, be they physically sexual or describing relationships between the male and female sexes. In my analysis of Titus Andronicus, The Changeling, and The Rover, I use sexual iconoclasm as a new theoretical lens that allows us to examine the obsession with and destruction of sexual imagery in the context of larger sociopolitical concerns of a culture.