Home / About / People / Faculty / Rhema Hokama



Research Interests:
Discipline: English Literature
Pillar / Cluster: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


I joined SUTD’s faculty of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in 2016, after receiving my PhD in English literature from Harvard. My research explores how changing views of religious worship practices in the aftermath of the English Reformation shaped the way Shakespeare and his contemporary writers conceptualized sexual longing in their poetry. My most recent articles on prayer and devotional practice have appeared in Shakespeare Quarterly and Milton Studies.

My current book project Poetry, Desire, and Devotional Performance, 1609-1667 analyzes the ways devotional practice informed expressions of desire in the poetry of five Renaissance English writers: Shakespeare, Donne, Greville, Herrick, and Milton. I maintain that outward devotional practices did more than provide the material and cultural scaffolding by which individuals could conceptualize their relationship with God; equally important, these religious practices provided early modern writers with models for talking and thinking about intimacy across a wide range of earthly, fleshly, and bodily contexts.

My second book project is a study of cultural violence and ancestral memory in the aftermath of the English Reformation. As England moved toward establishing a new national Protestant identity, I’m interested in exploring the ancestral and family memories and identities that were lost or forgotten in that process. From More’s Utopia to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, I explore how religious change and transformation disrupted and facilitated memorial access to one’s own ancestral past.

I received a B.A in classical studies and English literature from the University of Chicago, and a M.St. in early modern British literature from Oxford.

See more at: scholar.harvard.edu/rhokama/home


Referred Journal Articles

  • “Love’s Rites: Performing Prayer in Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” Shakespeare Quarterly 62.2 (2012): 199-223.
  • “Praying in Paradise: Recasting Milton’s Iconoclasm in Paradise Lost,” Milton Studies 54 (2013): 161-180.
  • “Shakespeare in Hawai‘i: Puritans, Missionaries, and Language Trouble in a Hawaiian Pidgin Translation of Twelfth Night,” Multicultural Shakespeare 18 (2018): 57-77.

Book Review

  • Review of Daniel R. Gibbons, Conflicts of Devotion: Liturgical Poetics in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England (Notre Dame, 2017), Parergon 34.2 (2017): 207-8.

Works in Progress

  • The Reformation of Desire: Poetry, Prayer, and Devotional Performance from Shakespeare to Milton, 1609-1667 (book manuscript)
  • Cultural Violence and Ancestral Memory after the English Reformation, from More to Shakespeare (book project)