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Christine de Pizan--Book of the City of Ladies

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Sharon Emmerichs

on 2 July 2015

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Transcript of Christine de Pizan--Book of the City of Ladies

The City
The Three Virtues
The lady herself
1. Christine de Pizan chooses for her city women from all eras of history, different religions, and different social statuses. Why do you think she did this?
2. Knowing that this text is a response to Jean de Meun's long poem "The Romance of the Rose", what do you think of her rhetorical strategies and arguments?
3. Examine Lady Reason--what do you think of her character? Her language? Her claims?
4. A city built out of only women--discuss.
Like Dante, de Pizan has guides. They are the allegorical representations of Reason, Rectitude, and Justice--not traits normally associated with the feminine in the Middle Ages. Our reading introduced Lady Reason specifically because The Romance of the Rose stated that women
It is significant that in her text, women do not simply live in the City of Women--they ARE the City. They are the bricks that create it. This connection between humankind and its environment was not strange or new, but it was the first time it was applied to women. This text is an allegory, meaning it is meant to be representative rather than literal, so scripting women as literal cornerstones of civilization was quite the radical move on her part.
Christine de Pizan was highly influenced by an Italian writer named Giovanni Bocaccio, who wrote a text called "On Famous Women" and most of her characters come from this book. Bocaccio, who also hugely influenced Chaucer, believed that women should be granted a choice in how they lived their lives, and that they should never be forced into marriage or convents when they are too young to choose for themselves. de Pizan took this idea even farther and advocated for a formal eduation for women in her writing.
de Pizan wrote poetry, prose, and political texts. Her most famous work is the Book of the City of Ladies, which is a direct response to a popular book "The Romance of the Rose", which she thought was extremely misogynistic in its portrayal of women. She uses historical female figures to combat the views in that text.
Her works
Christine de Pizan is one of the very first women to successfully make a career out of being a writer for the royal court. She was born in Italy but later moved to France with her father. Nearly all her texts were written in French, her second language.
"Ha! If I had only believed Theophrastus, I would never have taken a wife. He holds no man to be wise who takes a woman in marriage, whether ugly or beautiful, poor or rich. For he says, and you can take it for truth, in his noble book Aureole , which is good to read in school, that there is there a life too full of torment and strife."
An example from the text....
Christine de Pizan--Book of the City of Ladies
At 15 she was married off to a minor noble, and he died of the bubonic plague when she was only 24, leaving her to make her own way in the court. Her father was also dead and left her with a lot of debt. She managed to support herself and her three children with her writing.
are incapable of reason.
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