Blegging: Name Orlando’s Book

Dear Hoydenizens,

I hereby invite you all to a grand game of Name My Book.

My first book is to be published later this year, and I am still not happy with the title. It is an academic text, but one I hope will have a broader appeal for people interested in the theatre, and the way women are presented on stage. The book identifies twelve of Shakespeare’s characters who I believe show a use of the conventional stage archetype of the “shrew”: basically, an outspoken woman who is publically critical of men, and will not curb her speaking for the sake of decorum. I look at a number of performances of each character from roughly the last twenty years, to see whether and how their unruly voices are framed positively or negatively on the stage today.

The working title is:

Shakespeare and the Shrew: Performing the Transgressive Female Voice

But I fear it lacks oompf.

These days it is considered important to get into the title the kinds of words that someone doing a Google search for your topic area would be likely to use to maximise the chance of them finding you. In this case, that would mean words like: Shakespeare, shrew(s), woman/women/female characters/voice, (modern) performance/stage/theatre, etc.

The most common form for a title of this kind is
Short Bit (often a quote) : Long Bit
(Comic Women, Tragic Men: Gender and Genre in Shakespeare; As She Likes It: Shakespeare’s Unruly Women and O Brave New World: Two Centuries of Shakespeare on the Australian Stage are some well-known examples) but it doesn’t have to be exactly like that.

The coveted prize of a copy of the book (hardback!) will be awarded to the person with the best response, whether or not I actually end up using it.

I would also be thrilled to get some ideas for a cover image. I’m leaning towards a falcon, but am worried it will end up looking like a fantasy novel (maybe no bad thing?).

Have at it, and thanks for your thoughts!


(H/T to Chally, who suggested I do this.)

[Image credit for index thumbnail: Peregrine Falcon on Iron Woman sculpture, San Francisco (Sarah Han) ~ image found by tigtog]

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism

Tags: , , ,

32 replies

  1. I feel like The Bard And The Shrew has a bit more short-title punch.
    The Bard and The Shrew: Unruly [or Wayward, or Defiant, or Disruptive] Women on Shakespeare’s Stage?

  2. The Turning of the Shrew: Shakespeare’s representations of Women.

  3. Cover picture of a shrew? /ducks/

  4. Can I ask a question that might help guide? What’s your unique point of difference from all the other books about unruly women in Shakespeare?

  5. @Tamara: It’s been done!
    Lauredhel, while there are a few books out there on female characters in Shakespeare, none of them actually distinguish the shrew as a theatrical conventional type (like the tyrant, the lover or the clown), so they are usually a grab of several characters the author was interested in without unifying characteristics. Penny Gay’s book, for example, which is the closest to mine, looks at Kate, Beatrice and Isabella (who are in my book), but also Rosalind and Viola, who are definitely not shrews because they use male disguise to make their public voices acceptable. I am looking at characters whose speech is censured by someone within the play, to see whether modern productions seem to come down on the side of the censure or on the side of the woman.
    Also, most books that have dealt with modern performance of specific characters in Shakespeare tend to focus heavily on the RSC. Mine is very global, with productions from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and North America as well as Britain.
    tigtog – what an amazing thing for that bird to land on that sculpture.
    And yes, I am going to be checking this page obsessively.

  6. To draw on a line by Petruchio:
    “A Woman’s Tongue: Performing Shakespeare’s Shrews.”
    But that’s also because I enjoy a bit of alliteration.
    Or, as a very minor variation on your working title:
    “Shakespeare’s Shrews: Performing the Transgressive Female Voice”

  7. I was wondering whether perhaps “Lips of Scorn” (or ‘Scornful Lips’), playing on Richard III Act I, Scene ii (that fascinatingly awful scene where Richard befuddles Lady Anne after her distinctly shrewish responses to him):

    Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made
    For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.

    For me, it rather sums up the reprimand directed at all the unruly shrews.

  8. I liked Li’s ‘Shakespeare’s shrews’, so:
    ‘Woman, hold your tongue: performing Shakespeare’s Shrews on the International Stage’
    or ‘for a global audience’.
    ‘Hold your tongue’ is from Romeo and Juliet and directed at a woman, but the ‘woman’ is an addition for the benefit of the search engines. Reading you distinctive features I think emphasising the global/international perspective might be worthwhile.

  9. orlando: So, the key points seem to be:
    – Shakespeare
    – unruly/transgressive
    – women/female voices
    – [but not exclusively “shrews”; cross-dressing characters also. Common thread women who are censured/scolded/rebuked in the text]
    – performance/stage/theatre
    – a global (Anglosphere-only?) and modern perspective
    I feel like there’s some wordplay to be made on the Globe Theatre/this being a global-perspective book, but I can’t quite grasp it.

  10. Reading you distinctive features I think emphasising the global/international perspective might be worthwhile.
    And the inclusion of a quote that’s not from the Taming of the Shrew emphasises the exploration a character type rather than a specific character.

  11. Taming Shakespeare: Modern Performances of the Early Modern Transgressive Female

  12. Admittedly a comedy option as I want to mull this one over…
    ‘Alas, I am a woman’: Shakespeare’s shrews stand up
    I will come back with something proper later…

  13. The Shrew’s the Thing

  14. Much Ado about Shrew.

  15. Big Shrew Off.
    The Shrew’s Shakespeare.
    To Know the Shrew.
    Return of the Shrew.

  16. Oh yeah Mindy did the Henry James pun already.

  17. Did I? Is it still clever if you don’t realise you are doing it? #HenryJamesFAIL

  18. Maybe it’s even cleverer that way Mindy!
    To beshrew or not beshrew.
    Beatrice’s Revenge (okay, that’s more of a ‘Much Ado’ reference than a ‘Shrew’ one but I like it.)
    Fast running out of handy puns…

  19. Thanks for putting your back into it, Tim. Beshrew is indeed a great word. I thought Mindy was making a Turn of the Screw joke, too.
    Have already had What Shrew is That? offered elsewhere.
    I actually began with “Shakespeare’s Shrews”, but decided I liked that “Shakespeare and the Shrew” suggested a relationship rather than ownership.
    I’m pretty seduced by “lips of scorn”.
    Just to clarify, Lauredhel, I’m not including the cross dressers (that was Penny Gay’s book), or a few others that people might expect, for various reasons that mean they fall outside the bounds of what really constitute a shrew (lots of grey areas exist). At the risk of being long-winded, I might just pop the full list up, in case it inspires anyone.

  20. Constance (King John); Kate Percy (Henry IV); Jeanne la Pucelle and Margaret d’Anjou (Henry VI and Richard III); Adriana (Comedy of Errors); Katherina (Taming); Beatrice (Much Ado); Goneril (King Lear); Emilia (Othello); Isabella (Measure for Measure); Marina (Pericles) and Paulina (Winter’s Tale).
    Hands up who knew that Shakespeare wrote Joan (Jeanne) of Arc into a play?

  21. I was making a Turn of the Screw joke, I just didn’t know where it came from. So I was actually being cleverer than I thought!

  22. Mindy: I missed the screw turns joke, and missed the Henry James joke and thought you were doing a play on current academic language, ala ‘the postmodern turn’, ‘the narrative turn’ etc. So bonus, it works on many levels:)

  23. I’m tipping TigTog’s ‘Lips of Scorn’ as the winner. Though of course I could be completely wrong…

    • I’m glad Orlando likes it, Tim, but I’m not making a bet on it.
      Perhaps a modification for the full title: “Lips of Scorn: Performing Shakespeare’s Defiant Women”

  24. So Shrew Me: Shakespeare’s Portrayals of Strong Women

  25. I’ve been playing around with the word shrewd for a few days: shrewd shrews, shrew’d, that sort of thing. Made into a shrew, and also astute. So I suggest Shrewd: Transgressive Women on Shakespeare’s Stage or Shrewd Shrews: Transgressive Female Voices on Shakespeare’s Stage, or either with the bits after the colons swapped around.

  26. Chally, I adore the simplicity of starting with one word, as you have, as academic titles are usually so cumbersome. There’s a great quote from Henry VI, which I’m using as the title for the chapter on shrews in the history plays, where a lord says “These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues.”
    I’m thinking about how the word “beshrew” could be used like “bewitch”. “That man needs a good beshrewing”, “I have been well beshrewd, and am the better for it.”
    Thank you all for loads of valuable input. I’m still not quite sure how the title will come out in the end, but I am ready to declare tigtog the winner of the book, partly because I like “lips of scorn”, but mainly because I see now that “defiant” is a much more accurate word for what I’m including than “transgressive”. The cross-dressers, and Lady Macbeth, and the Merry Wives of Windsor are all transgressive in one way or another, but the shrews are openly defiant of male authority, and that is what sets them apart.

  27. *applause* Well done, tigtog, yours was my favourite.

  28. Yay Tigtog. Defiant is a great word. Lips of Scorn – you can’t even say it without feeling scornful. Or maybe that’s just me today.

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