Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation challenges the concept of literary communities defined by national boundaries, arguing that men and women in late-medieval England imagined themselves as members of a transcontinental, multilingual reading group. To this end, I investigate the cross-channel circulation of works by Christine de Pizan (1364-c.1430), a Parisian author who is often described as the first professional woman writer in the West. Through extensive archival research in London, Oxford, Cambridge, and New York, I uncover Christine de Pizan’s influence on English literary history, demonstrating how Christine’s love lyrics, political manuals, and proto-feminist texts were read and shared among readers in England. I consider the insular reception of Christine’s texts as part of a larger translatio of French literature to England, a cultural exchange facilitated by the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and mediated by the physical transfer of books and people across the English Channel. Through a study of this mobile literature, my dissertation examines a transcontinental community of women readers, arguing that these readers were joined not only by their common experiences as women but also by a shared identity as members of an international aristocratic society.
Watson, Sarah Wilma, "Women, Reading, And Literary Culture: The Reception Of Christine De Pizan In Fifteenth-Century England" (2018). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 2956.