Tag Archives: Derrida

Language Games. 1 Oct.



Good work on Tuesday! We provided some fresh answers to questions Shrew provokes. We used Stephen Greenblatt’s famous concept, Renaissance self-fashioning, as ground on which to assess the relative liberty of characters in Shrew.

To review, Greenblatt argues his term self-fashioning “describes the practice of parents and teachers; it is linked to manner or demeanor, particularly that of the elite; it may suggest hypocrisy or deception of one’s nature or intention in speech or action…It invariably crosses the boundaries between the creation of literary characters, the shaping of one’s own identity, the experience of being molded by forces outside one’s control, and the attempt to fashion other selves” (3).

We got at how Shrew exemplifies the irony at the center of self-fashioning. For example, Lucentio & Hortentio have to give up their identities to find them, and Petruccio’s exaggerated individualism depends on a huge cluster of old clothes, broken weapons, a dying horse, and the microorganisms that infect it. Both Kelsey and Isabelle pointed out that “hearsay” in act 3 contributes to play’s investment in staging ways social expectations, (expressed through gossip?), shapes the identity of the characters. I suggest Katherine’s and Bianca’s language games (wooing scene 2.1 & Latin/Music lesson 3.1) offer an alternative to the orthodoxy of the gossips because the literally challenge the coherence of the structure of the system. As Bruce Smith explains the ladies’ play with language,

“upsets the concords of words by seizing the masculine hic and eschewing the feminine haec. Also at issues in their actions is a disruption in the governing of words, whereby the stronger controls the weaker, as, for example, the noun controlling the verb; the substantive, the adjective; the antecedent the relative pronoun. When Bianca takes over Lucentio’s Latin verse and turns it to her own ends, the verb governs the noun; the adjective, the substantive; the pronoun the antecedent. All preposterous. ‘Take heed he hear us not,’ ‘presume not,’ ‘despair not’: In the three commands that conclude her construal, Bianca turns the usually governing masculine ‘I’ into the acted-on ‘you.’” (348).

For Further Consideration
For your consideration: Per Madison’s provocative reading, is Katherine a virgin? Is Bianca?; Is the play pedagogical?; and what time is it?

Part I. Questions?

Read Katherine’s Final Speech (5.2.142-184) and complete the following tasks:
For 5 minutes write as many questions about the speech as you can. Then take 5 more minutes and answer 2-3 of the questions you generated.

Part II.Assessment

(Collaboratively Generated Assessment Criteria for Visual Rendering Assignment)

We are going to generate the criteria I use to assess the final drafts of your Visual Renderings as a group. In order to generate the assessment criteria, please complete the steps below:

RQ: Shrew 1 & Haraway 97-107



Keep the following questions in mind as you read Act 1 of The Taming of the Shrew, and Donna Haraway’s, “Companion Species” (97-107). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

Taming of the Shrew Act 1

Does Sly remain on stage for the entirety of the play, or return to play another role? If he does return to play another role, what part would you cast him in? If he stays on stage, how does his presence shape the play’s meaning?

What does Lucentio decide to study, and why? What does Tranio suggest he do instead?

What is the matter of the play according to Baptista’s first lines? What other plots does his decision provoke?

What’s Katherina’s first line? How does she offer a rejoinder to Gremio’s “To cart her, rather” (1.155), and then some?

How does Bianca plan to spend her time till she can get married? Is there any reason to fear that “music, instruments, and poetry,” (1.1.93) will transform her into a shrew?

Do Gremio, Hortentio, Tranio, & Lucentio form a chorus? Do they represent everyday values, or do they muddy everyday values?

How does Hortentio respond to Gremio’s rhetoric?

How do descriptions of Katherina in 1.1 compare with what she does and says herself?

Near the end of act one, Lucentio says, “And let me be a slave to achieve that maid/Whose sudden sight hath enthralled my wounded eye” (1.1.18-19). What sorts of poetic conventions does he draw on here? How does this moment suggest an expectation that there is something inherently dangerous in visual composition?

Does Tranio make Luctentio or does Lucentio make Tranio? Is there any danger in their in plot?

Is Petruccio a villain? What do you make of his relationship with Grumio?

How does Hortensio interpret Petruccio? Does his response to him cast doubts on his ability to judge character?

Donna Haraway, “Encounters with Companion Species” (97-107)

What does Haraway mean when she says, “companion species” (98-99)?

  • Companion: what connotations/denotations does her etymology of the word yield? What does she mean when she says the word is “gustatory” (100)?
  • Species: What does connotations/denotations does her etymology of the word yield? How is this term ”visual” (100-102)?

What are tradition expectations of human-animal relations? What happens to those expectations when we recognize that animals not only “look back at humans” (102), but both our trajectories are irrevocably changed as a consequence of the intersection?

What does it mean to distinguish a response from a reaction? What are the stakes of this discrimination (103)?

What might it mean to consider the absence of a name as something “other than a privation” (103)?

What “obligation” did Derrida fail to meet with his cat? What kept him from answering the cat’s invitation (103)?

What questions about animals does Derrida regard as the “decisive question”? What does questions about animals does Haraway regard as the “decisive question”? Why the difference (105-07)?