John Roe



John Roe is a professor in Renaissance literature and a member of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (CREMS). He took a BA (subsequently MA) in English Literature at the University of Cambridge and an MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Comparative Literature, mainly English and Italian, has remained a keen interest, which shows principally in his monograph Shakespeare and Machiavelli.  He has taught at York since 1973. Before that he taught at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and at Harvard. During his time at York he has enjoyed long sojourns at universities in other countries, for example, at the University of the Saarland in Germany, at Kyoto University, Doshisha University, and Kobe Jogakuin, in Japan; and most recently a year as the visiting Gillespie Professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.



The Renaissance (Early Modern) is his main area of literary interest as his book on Shakespeare and Machiavelli and his edition of Shakespeare’s poems show but he also researches modern subjects such as American poetry and British fiction, in particular John Berryman, Robert Lowell, and Anthony Powell. He is interested in the history of both lyric and epic poetry in the Renaissance from the point of view of Italian influence, notably that of Petrarch, including considerations of form. He enjoys studying the effect of Latin mythology, as in Ovid, on Renaissance poetry. These interests are reflected in his publications. He teaches an MA seminar on Shakespeare and the Powers of Language which calls attention to the importance of rhetoric in Shakespeare’s work.  He has supervised and examined doctorates which have dealt in turn with Shakespeare, Petrarch, rhetoric, and Anthony Powell.


Selected publications

  • Shakespeare and Machiavelli,   published in Studies in the Renaissance (Boydell and Brewer, 2002).
  • Shakespeare:  The Poems,   Cambridge, edited for the New Cambridge Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press, updated ed. 2006.)
  • Inspiration and Technique: Theories of Beauty and Art from Antiquity to the Present, co-edited with Michele Stanco (Peter Lang, 2007)

Selected recent chapters, articles

  • 2012 ‘Sonnet and Sonnet Sequence’, in Oxford Bibliographies On Line (ID OBO-4372.R 1)
  • 2012 ‘Shakespeare’s Suffering Venus’, in Archiv für das Studium der neureren Sprachen und Literaturen, Band 249
  • 2011 ‘Shakespeare: What Rhetoric Accomplishes’, in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Theories: Anglo-Italian Transactions, ed. Michele Marrapodi, Ashgate
  • 2011‘John Berryman’ in Emerson, Melville, James, Berryman: Great Shakespeareans vol. VIII, ed. Peter Rawlings, Continuum
  • 2010 ‘Theories of Literary Kinds’, in A New Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture, vol. II, ed. Michael Hattaway, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford
  • 2009 ‘Style, Versatility, and the Politics of the Epistles’, in Ben Jonson and the Politics of Genre, ed. A. D.  Cousins and Alison V. Scott, Cambridge
  • 2009 ‘Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Poems’, in Editionen in der Kritik III, ed. H-G Roloff, Berliner Beiträger zur Editionswissenschaft, vol. 8
  • 2009 ‘The Renaissance in Literature’, in The Literary Encyclopaedia, ed. Robert Clark and Cristina Sandru (online)
  • 2007 ‘The Comedy of Astrophil: Petrarchan Motifs in Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella’, Proceedings of the British Academy 146
  • 2007 ‘Unfinished Business: A Lover’s Complaint and Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and the Rape of Lucrece’, in Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s A Lovers Complaint, ed. S. Sharon-Zisser, Ashgate
  • 2007 “Rhetoric, Style, and Poetic Form”, in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Poetry, ed. P. Cheney, Cambridge
  • 2007 ‘The Refracted Self: Japanese Experiences’, in The SALT Companion to Peter Robinson, ed. Adam Piette and  Katy Price, Cambridge: SALT Companions to Poetry
  • 2007 ‘Knowing and Unknowing: Proustian Moments in Powell’s Dance’, Proceedings of the Anthony Powell Centenary Conference; The Third Biennial Anthony Powell Conference, London: Anthony Powell Society
  • 2005 “Machiavellian Dissimulation and Allegory: The Writings of Roger Ascham and Sir Philip Sidney”, in Renaissance Go-Betweens: Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe, ed. Andreas Höfele and Werner von Koppenfels, Berlin and New York: De Gruyter
  • 2004 ‘“Character” in Plutarch and Shakespeare: Brutus, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony’, in Shakespeare and the Classics, ed. Charles Martindale and A. B. Taylor, Cambridge
  • 2002 ‘Shakespeare, Sonnets, and the 51st Psalm’, in Studies in Literature and Culture in Honour of Professor Irena Janicka-Świderska, ed. Maria Edelson. Łódź: University of Łódź Press
  • 2000 ‘Ovid “renascent” in Hero and Leander and Venus and Adonis’, in Ovid and Shakespeare, ed. A. B. Taylor, Cambridge

External activities


John Roe is a member of various literary societies and associations, including the Renaissance Society of America and the International Shakespeare Association. He is on the committee of the York Bibliographical Society and is a member of the Sydney Smith Association. He is also a trustee of the Anthony Powell Society, and works to extend interest in this author. He is a member of the Laurence Sterne Trust, which is housed at Shandy Hall, within convenient distance of York.

He is the Renaissance Poetry and Prose editor of the on-line Literary Encyclopaedia. He is on the editorial board of Mandala. La botte di Diogene, a book-series published by Pensa Multimedia, Lecce.

John Roe

Contact details

Prof. John Roe
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 44 1904 323347