Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kathleen Davis

Abstract

Women’s Historiography in Late Medieval European Literature: Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Christine de Pizan considers the ways in which the textual generation of women’s historiography correlated with women’s social access in late medieval Europe, 1361-1405. I examine Boccaccio's authoritative and Latin Famous Women (1361) and its reworkings in Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women (1386-1394) and Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies (1405). I argue that Chaucer’s and de Pizan’s vernacular versions revise Boccaccio’s exclusive Latin, which demonstrates a correlation between the consistent documentation of women and possibilities for women’s social opportunities. Moreover, de Pizan’s participation in the production of women’s historiography demonstrates the ways in which the possession of a documented past promotes the recognition of female social contributions and counters perspectives in previous, male authored accounts. Although divisions of periodization and national literatures have separated de Pizan from Boccaccio and Chaucer, this project employs literary and historiographic analyses in order to allow de Pizan’s accomplishments to stand beside those of her male contemporaries. Such a pairing not only confronts disciplinary inaccuracies, but also seeks to advance studies of women's historiographies, to appropriate de Pizan's accomplishments for women today and to further an understanding of the ways in which the politics of language affect socio-political gains, especially for women.

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