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Melanie Rio

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PhD Candidate, English

2204 Tawes Hall
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Melanie Rio is a PhD candidate studying early modern English literature, with a focus on drama. She is particularly interested in early modern performance practice and how theories of performance influence our interpretations and understandings of dramatic literature. Her dissertation explores representations of madness, mental illness, and mood disoder on the early modern stage. She is the president of the Graduate English Organization and the Graduate Assistant for MEM-UM. In addition to her academic pursuits, she is a fiction and music writer, represented by Arielle Datz of the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. Her debut novel, If We Were Villains was published by Flatiron Books (Macmillan) in 2017.

Rio's Honors and Awards include the Flapship Fellowship at the University of Maryland, a former Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was awarded the Andy and Cindi Griffith Scholarship and the Joseph D. Feldman Award at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


MA in Shakespeare Studies, King's College London and Shakespeare's Globe (2015)
Denver Publishing Institute (2014)
Iowa Writers' Workshop, special session (2014)
BA in English and dramatic art, minor in creative writing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2014)


If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains is the debut novel of American author M. L. Rio first published in 2017.


Lead: Melanie Rio
The novel concerns a murder mystery surrounding Oliver Marks, a former actor at the fictional Dellecher Shakespeare conservatory and most of the novel takes place during his 4th and final year at the conservatory.