Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jennifer Flaherty

Second Advisor

Julian Knox

Third Advisor

Stefanie Sevcik


What the World Needs Now: Love, Humor and the Shakespeare Connection discusses how the modern romantic comedy (rom com) genre depicts gender roles in adaptations of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. This paper looks at Shakespeare’s contributions to the themes of romantic comedy and how 21st Century filmmakers interpret his concepts. Because rom com typically lacks value among scholars, much of this genre’s impact on audiences is overlooked, yet its popularity makes it an undeniable presence deserving a closer examination. The 2020 pandemic brought into specific relief, not only the popularity of the rom com and its function as an archetype of entertainment, but also its benefits as a psychological balm and a model of social interaction. Addressing the questions, “How do modern filmmakers interpret Shakespeare’s models of love and humor?” and “What are the intrinsic benefits of the rom com genre?” this paper is a discussion of the essential value of the love/humor link to the success of human society. By focusing on the palliative nature of rom com’s formulaic ritual, this paper encourages a serious look at the benefits of the modern romantic comedy.