“Names Have Power”: Five Essays on Names and Identity

Image by Girish Gopi (CC BY 2.0)

“Names have power,” writes Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein in a recent popular essay, “The Violence of Naming.” We identify ourselves by names: family names, nicknames, the surnames of our partners, pseudonyms, and more. These five essays, curated by Cheri Lucas Rowlands at the Discover blog, explore the ties we have (or don’t have) to our names, and the roles that they play in our evolving identities.

The essays are:

  • “The Violence of Naming,” Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein
  • “Call You By Your Name,” Roxanne Krystalli, Stories of Conflict and Love
  • “Ain’t Nothing But a Family Thing,” Matt Miklic
  • “How I Changed My Name,” Ellen Kittle, Stickler
  • “The Mystery of Carl Miller,” Sarah Miller, Longreads