Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

David Wallace

Abstract

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.

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