Gender Studies Graduate Research Workshop
Title: “They call me Katherine” : Performative Pet Names in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew
Presenter: Jennifer Thorup (PhD English)
Terms of endearment, sometimes known as pet names or nominal forms of address, are commonplace colloquialisms of everyday speech. The affectionate vocatives, such as honey, dear, and sweetheart, mark a coded language of intimacy between loved ones, and cue relationship status to outsiders. They create affection and signify a degree of reciprocal love. However, terms of endearment—in a negative sense—can also be demeaning, manipulative, and belittling. They can expose gender, class, and even racial disparity. In this essay, I attend to the shifting and disparate endearment use in Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew between Katherina and Petruchio to highlight the characterization and relational stability (or instability) of the couple’s relationship. Furthermore, I emphasize the rhetorical strategy endearments provided for Shakespeare himself, and suggest performative possibility for current directors and editors of his work.
Jennifer Thorup is a third year PhD student in the English department. She researches early modern drama with a specific interest in terms of endearment and marriage. Predominantly, Jennifer is driven by relationships—the relationship between text and performance, one’s relationship to the divine, the giving and taking in interpersonal relationships, the relation between disciplines, and the prevailing notion of becoming “one.” Her scholarship characteristically magnifies quirky details and contradictions in order to arrive at new affordances. Her recent work on henna in Bollywood Shakespeare films is forthcoming as a chapter in Bloomsbury’s edited collection.