Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Other English Language and Literature
Editing Shakespeare: Violence, Text, and Commodity in The Taming of the Shrew is an edition of one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most controversial comedies aimed at an undergraduate audience. Textually, The Taming of the Shrew is a complex and controversial play because two radically different versions of it have survived. My edition is written in the context of two other controversies, namely the function of scholarship in the humanities given Syracuse University’s commitment to scholarship in action and the abiding problem of domestic abuse. Though the printing industry is a driving force behind the production of new editions of Shakespearean texts, it is the social issue of domestic abuse that keeps The Taming of the Shrew at the forefront of classroom discussion. As we continue to debate the role of women in both early modern and contemporary domestic spheres, this text, a case study in domestic violence, provides an appropriate starting point and challenges our social response to literature that offers a representation of household abuse even within the frame of comedy. Historicizing Shakespeare’s play allows for a careful consideration of the texts and other cultural works that predate and accompany Shakespeare in the historical moment that saw the writing and production of this play. The most intense historical debate that underlies The Taming of the Shrew questions the relationship between Shakespeare’s play and a rival text titled The Taming of a Shrew. This textual debate questions authorship and authenticity as well as the nature of performance in and of the play itself. The critical debate centers itself in yet another controversy—the resolution of the play’s taming narrative. The focus of this resolution is Kate’s (in)famous final speech, and scholars have presented a variety of readings of these last lines. For decades, scholarship has asked, is Kate’s verbal expression of wifely obedience a true sign of her submission, or does she assert her authority by using the very structures of oppression to her own advantage? The Taming of the Shrew proves to be an elusive text. It demands focused and dedicated editorial labor and an historical yet modern frame of mind. The multitude of critical reflections, each with variant readings of the play’s gender dynamics, demonstrates that the play has maintained its presence in scholarly consciousness despite its status as a nearly four-hundred-year-old text. My edition works toward a uniquely comprehensive synthesis of contextual and critical materials and seeks to serve undergraduate students as an accessible and valuable version of this perennial play.
Vomero, Kathryn E., "Editing Shakespeare Violence, Text and Commodity in The Taming of the Shrew" (2007). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 559.
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