Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Agnew, Lois


Classical Reception Studies, Elagabalus, Feminist Rhetorics, Queer Rhetorics, Rhetorical Historiography, Trans Rhetorics

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Communication | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Rhetoric | Rhetoric and Composition | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


This dissertation studies representations of Elagabalus, the sovereign of Rome who ruled between 218–222ce, after her assassination to examine how depictions and historical accounts of Elagabalus's life make rhetorical decisions about Elagabalus's identity and being that can foreground the composer's relationship to history and the function of history as a rhetorical force. Thus, this project, through studying Elagabalus's composers, raises questions about the nature of figure studies and history. The project draws on trans, queer, and feminist theories and rhetorics which help highlight the contingent and conflicting nature of Elagabalus's identities across representations without settling them into a singular narrative of being allowing for multiple queer potentialities to emerge. Thus, while firmly rooted in rhetoric and rhetorical theory and deeply invested in history contributing and shaping the available means, this project is conversant with classics, women and gender studies, LGBT studies, and history, among other disciplines. The methodology of the project reflects this interdisciplinary approach, braiding together classical reception studies, circulation studies, and queer, trans, and feminist historiographical methods together to engage this scholarly conversation.


Open Access