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Writing a Dictionary of Shakespeare’s Insults | Early Modern and Open Access

By October 16, 2016 No Comments

This is part of a regular series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Citation and Link:

Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin, “From A to ‘Z’: Writing a Dictionary of Shakespeare’s Insults,” Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare 31 (2014) 


The purpose of this study is to present the theoretical bases of a work in progress, the author’s forthcoming dictionary of Shakespeare’s insults. If Shakespeare’s insults have so far produced bankable entertaining anthologies of wit, they have not been the object of any systematic scientific research. This statement shows the relevance of such a book and at the same time suggests that the enterprise is paved with specific difficulties. Notably using Évelyne Larguèche’s work on the “insulting effect”, we first show that the aim of this dictionary is to elucidate what words have an insulting content and effect in Shakespeare’s plays and why. Then we show that this dictionary cannot but adopt a pragmatic linguistic approach which does not exclude what Jean-Jacques Lecercle calls “the other side of language” or “the remainder”. We strive to show that, by its essential instability, the language of insults is at the heart of the richness and theatricality of Shakespeare’s plays.


Author Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Reid is a regular contributor to The Scrivener and Early Modern and Open Access. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

More posts by Lindsay

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