Kenneth Gross, professor of English at the University of Rochester, has been awarded a research fellowship of $28,153 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete his work exploring damaging speech in Shakespeare's writings.
Gross began studying the Bard's fascination with slander, mockery, curses and other harmful and violent forms of language at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. five years ago.
In his book, tentatively title Shakespeare's Noise: Bad Mouths and Anxious Ears, Gross will show how the playwright's use of abusive speech transcends the simple connotation of foul language. Rather, slander and rumor are things that liberate language and fantasy in the plays. Gross also will also examine the social and legal history of slander, defamation, and censorship in Shakespeare's time.
Gross has been teaching at the University since 1983. He has written broadly on Renaissance and modern poetry, on drama, and on the relations of literature and the visual arts. He is the author of two previous books of criticism: Spenserian Poetics: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Magic, and The Dream of the Moving Statue.