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Feminism and the Fall: Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, and Louise Labe

Feminism and the Fall: Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, and Louise Labe Chapter 6 : Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, and Louise Labé Michigan State University Semiramis, the mythical queen of Babylon who conquered new lands and seduced her own son, was a focal point for early feminist debate. Her story underwent some surprising revisions, particularly in Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus (1362), Christine de Pizan's Cité des dames (1405), and Louise Labé's Oeuvres (1555). As I shall argue, however, these revisions are not attempts to whitewash Semiramis's story. Writers on both sides of the debate embrace Semiramis's imperfections, which they present in the light of the original Fall of woman and man. The feminists, Christine de Pizan and Louise Labé, seize on a historical concept--the Fall and its aftermath of woe--and turn it into a strange strength; the example of Semiramis's fall becomes an object lesson on the importance of education for women. Boccaccio paints Semiramis as almost but not quite manly--an example of military and political virtù, undone in the end by her innate feminine licentiousness. Coming right after the story of Eve (the first of Boccaccio's "remarkable women"), the story of Semiramis is that of a second Fall, again prompted by feminine frailty. This lurid tale is the point http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Essays in Medieval Studies West Virginia University Press

Feminism and the Fall: Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, and Louise Labe

Essays in Medieval Studies , Volume 21 (1) – Mar 31, 2004

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 Illinois Medieval Association.
ISSN
1538-4608
Publisher site
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Abstract

Chapter 6 : Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, and Louise Labé Michigan State University Semiramis, the mythical queen of Babylon who conquered new lands and seduced her own son, was a focal point for early feminist debate. Her story underwent some surprising revisions, particularly in Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus (1362), Christine de Pizan's Cité des dames (1405), and Louise Labé's Oeuvres (1555). As I shall argue, however, these revisions are not attempts to whitewash Semiramis's story. Writers on both sides of the debate embrace Semiramis's imperfections, which they present in the light of the original Fall of woman and man. The feminists, Christine de Pizan and Louise Labé, seize on a historical concept--the Fall and its aftermath of woe--and turn it into a strange strength; the example of Semiramis's fall becomes an object lesson on the importance of education for women. Boccaccio paints Semiramis as almost but not quite manly--an example of military and political virtù, undone in the end by her innate feminine licentiousness. Coming right after the story of Eve (the first of Boccaccio's "remarkable women"), the story of Semiramis is that of a second Fall, again prompted by feminine frailty. This lurid tale is the point

Journal

Essays in Medieval StudiesWest Virginia University Press

Published: Mar 31, 2004

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