Katie Kadue


Katie Kadue is a scholar of early modern French and English literature, with a focus on gender, labor, and the poetics of preservation and decay. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. Her essays on Andrew Marvell, Michel de Montaigne, Erasmus, Renaissance poetry and misogyny, and contemporary ecocriticism have appeared in Studies in Philology, Montaigne Studies, The Philosopher, Modern Philology, and Qui Parle. Her first book, Domestic Georgic: Labors of Preservation from Rabelais to Milton (University of Chicago Press, 2021), shows how early modern authors understood intellectual and poetic labor as a kind of housework: feminized maintenance work that aims at preserving individual and collective life.

Research Focus

The Language of Flowers: Commonplace Misogyny in Renaissance Lyric

At Cornell, Katie will be working on her second book project, which charts the poetic afterlives of a classical poetic trope: flowers as timeless symbols for ephemeral beauty. When male French and English poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries repeatedly revisited the figure of the common and short-lived flower, associated so often with the female body that it became synonymous with it, they did so with a mixture of fervent desire and fatigued disdain that mirrored their ambivalent attitudes toward poetic labor and poetic immortality. Burned out by the vocational pressure to revivify inherited commonplaces and produce poetry that would make them famous, male poets felt both envy and contempt for women, who like common flowers enjoyed both the luxury of not having to be anything special at all and, with their commonness immortalized in poetry, the privilege of being nothing special forever. Drawing on affect theory, ecocriticism, and early modern botany and print culture, The Language of Flowers argues that male poets’ compulsive returns to the persistent clichés of Petrarchism, carpe diem, and related traditions were inseparable from their attitudes toward female bodies. Tired tropes and aging women shared the irritating habit of outliving their usefulness without going away. Poets’ responses to the persistence of these figures took the form of a variety of mildly negative affects—irritation, sadistic humor, mere indifference—that themselves persist today in the casual, garden-variety misogyny that reduces women to the same old, tired, and all too common punchlines.