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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.

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

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

Tel: 44 1904 323347