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ENGL407: Medieval Women Writers

Unit 3: Secular Female Authors in the Medieval World   Outside of the Church, education was limited to the very wealthy.  In this unit, we will read a number of works by aristocratic women, examining their conceptualizations of their lives and their roles in society.  Not surprisingly, these women tend to decry the misogynistic and male-centric world in which they live; many consider these authors proto-feminists.  We will conclude with a section entitled “Men Writing Women,” where we will compare and contrast the ways in which men and women “wrote” the female figure.

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Describe the nature and function of Medieval secular female authorship.
  • Describe Medieval class structure, aristocratic women, and working-class women.
  • Discuss the formal and structural conventions of the Medieval lay and Medieval textual representations of love, desire, romance, marriage, widowhood, masculinity, femininity, and literary self-expression.
  • Describe the ways in which Medieval men wrote from the perspective of women.
  • Explain Chaucer’s treatment of women in his Canterbury Tales.

3.1 Class Positions and Social Roles for Secular Women in the Middle Ages   3.1.1 Medieval Class Structure   - Reading: Boundless: “Preindustrial Societies: The Birth of Inequality” and The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “Economy and Society up to the Thirteenth Century” Link: Boundless: “Preindustrial Societies: The Birth of Inequality” (HTML) and The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “Economy and Society up to the Thirteenth Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: First, read and view the video for an overview of Feudalism. Then, read the short chapter from Muhlberger’s Medieval England for a history of the development of social class over the course of the medieval era.
 
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3.1.2 The Emergence of “Class Consciousness”   - Reading: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “Economic Change and Social Tension in the Late Fourteenth Century” Link: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “Economic Change and Social Tension in the Late Fourteenth Century”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this chapter from Muhlberger’s Medieval England for a history of social tensions in the late medieval period.  
 
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3.1.3 Women of the Aristocracy   - Reading: Clark College: Professor Anita Fisher’s “Royal and Aristocratic Women in the Middle Ages” Link: Clark College: Professor Anita Fisher’s “Royal and Aristocratic Women in the Middle Ages”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire lecture for an excellent overview of the life of aristocratic women in the medieval era.  Please note that in order to access the text (viewable in either Word or PDF), you must follow the link titled “Royal and Aristocratic Women in Middle Ages” in the right-hand column titled “Lecture Texts.”
 
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3.1.4 Women of the Working Class   - Reading: Clark College: Professor Anita Fisher’s “Women’s Contributions to the Economy of Medieval Towns” Link: Clark College: Professor Anita Fisher’s “Women’s Contributions to the Economy of Medieval Towns” (PDF or DOC)

 Instructions: Please read the entire lecture for more information
on working class women’s roles in the medieval economy.  Please note
that in order to access the text, you must follow the link titled
“Women’s Contribution to the Economy of Medieval Towns” in the
right-hand column titled “Lecture Texts.”  You may view the text in
either Word or PDF format.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 Marie de France and the Romantic Lay   - Reading: University of Florida: Judith P. Shoaf’s The Lais of Marie de France; Washington State University: Dr. Paul Brian’s “The Lais of Marie de France Study Guide” Links: University of Florida: Judith P. Shoaf’s translation of The Lais of Marie de France (HTML);Washington State University: Dr. Paul Brian’s “The Lais of Marie de France Study Guide”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire translation of The Lais of Marie de France and then look over Dr. Brian’s “The Lais of Marie de France Study Guide.”  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
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3.2.1 Who Was Marie de France?   - Reading: New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Marie de France” Link: New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia entry on“Marie de France”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire entry on “Marie de France” for an introduction to her life and work.
 
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3.2.2 Aristocracy and Ties to the Royal Family   - Reading: Winthrop University: Dr. Jo Koster’s “Marie de France” Link: Winthrop University: Dr. Jo Koster’s "Marie de France" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire essay linked here.  Please note the discussion of how lais catered to the tastes of the aristocracy, perhaps as a result of the fact that Marie de France was immersed in royal society.
 
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3.2.3 What Is a Lay?—Form, Structure, and Convention   - Reading: Reading: Lightspill Poetry: Jonathan A. Glenn’s “Notes on Middle English Romance” and Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Lai” Link: Lightspill Poetry: Jonathan A. Glenn’s "Notes on Middle English Romance" (PDF) and Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Lai” (HTML)
 
Instructions: First, please read the essay from Lightspill Poetry for an excellent overview of the Romance genre, including information on structure, plot, and classification.  The brief essay should help you put Marie de France’s work in the appropriate historical context.  Then, please read the short definition of “lai” (or “lay”) linked here.

 Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted by the kind
permission of Dr. Jonathan Glenn, and can be viewed in its original
form [here](http://www.lightspill.com/).<span>  </span>Please note
that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in
any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

3.2.4 The Female Lay: Adaptations of a Predominantly Male Form   - Reading: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Introduction” Link: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Introduction” (HTML)
 
Also available in:
ePub format on Google Books
 
Instructions: Read the introduction linked here.  Please read only the introductory notes, not the portion of the essay that touches on the specific lays, as we will return to these sections later.  In particular, please pay close attention to the discussion of the medieval romance as a specific form of women’s literature.
 
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3.2.5 Concepts of Freedom and Escape   - Reading: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Introduction”; University of California eScholarship: Frederick Hodgson’s “Alienation and Otherworld in Lanval, Yonec, and Guigemar” Links: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Introduction”(HTML); University of California eScholarship: Frederick Hodgson’s “Alienation and the Otherworld in Lanval, Yonec, and Guigemar (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the section on “The Nightingale” in Terry’s “Introduction” for a discussion of the theme of entrapment in Marie de France’s text.  Then read Hodgson’s essay for a critical commentary on the theme of romance in several of Marie de France’s lays.  Pay close attention to the discussion of women’s role in the courtship process.
 
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3.2.6 Representation of Love, Desire, Romance, and Marriage   - Reading: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Introduction,” “Two Lovers,” and “Honeysuckle” Links: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: "Introduction," (HTML) “Two Lovers,”(HTML) and “Honeysuckle”(HTML)
 
Also available in:
ePub format on Google Books
 
Instructions: Read the “Introduction,” as well as the lais “Two Lovers,” and “Honeysuckle” for a discussion and examples of love in Marie de France’s text.  
 
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3.2.7 Moral Elements in the Lais   - Reading: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Lanval” and “Eliduc” Links: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Patricia Terry’s The Honeysuckle and the Hazel Tree: “Lanval”(HTML) and “Eliduc” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the lais “Lanval” and “Eliduc” linked here, paying close attention to the moral issues and injunctions they seem to be staking.  If necessary, you may also want to refer back to the “Introduction” for a review of background information on Marie de France.  To access the “Introduction,” click on the hyperlink in the table of contents on the left side of the webpage.
 
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3.2.8 Magic and the Supernatural   - Reading: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Medieval Romance” Link: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Medieval Romance” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the short definition of “medieval romance” linked here for some basic information on the use of supernatural themes in medieval lays.
 
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3.2.9 The Issue of the Dedication   - Reading: San Francisco State University Medieval Forum: Dinah Hazell’s "Rethinking Marie" Link: San Francisco State University Medieval Forum: Dinah Hazell’s "Rethinking Marie" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the article linked here in its entirety.
 
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3.3 Christine de Pizan   - Reading: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on “Christine de Pisan”; Millersville University: Bonnie Duncan’s version of Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies Links: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on“Christine de Pisan” (HTML); Millersville University: Bonnie Duncan’s version of Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies(HTML)
 
Also available in:
eText format on the Kindle ($3.96)
 
Instructions: Please begin by reading the short encyclopedia entry on Christine de Pizan for an introduction to her life and works.  Then, read the section of Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies linked here.
 
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3.3.1 Christine’s Education and “Career” as a Writer   - Reading: Sunshine for Women’s “Christine de Pizan” Link: Sunshine for Women’s “Christine de Pizan” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the short essay linked here for more information on Christine de Pizan’s education and her unorthodox career as a professional writer.
 
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3.3.2 Marriage and Widowhood   - Reading: Mount Saint Mary College: Dr. Kate Lindeman’s “The Life and Triumphs of Christine de Pizan”; University of Rochester Libraries’ version of Christine de Pizan’s “Like the Mourning Dove” and “I Am a Widow Lone” Link: Mount Saint Mary College: Dr. Kate Lindeman’s "The Life and Triumphs of Christine de Pizan" (HTML); University of Rochester Libraries’ version of Christine de Pizan’s “Like the Mourning Dove” and “I Am a Widow Lone” (HTML)
 
Instructions: First, read the entry titled “The Life and Triumphs of Christine de Pizan” for more about the author’s married life.  Please also read both poems linked here, “Like the Mourning Dove” and “I Am a Widow Lone,” which provide insight into Pizan’s perspective on her marital state.  
 
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3.3.3 A Female’s Perspective on a Woman’s Roles in Society   - Reading: Hanover College: “Christine de Pisan: The Book of the City of Ladies (1405)” Link: Hanover College: “Christine de Pisan: The Book of the City of Ladies (1405)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the series of short excerpts from Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies. As you read, pay close attention to the discussion of Pizan’s acknowledgement of inequalities in her society, especially in regards to female education, the character of women, and the false nature of male myths.
 
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3.3.4 Christine de Pizan’s Proto-Feminism   - Reading: Mount Saint Mary College: Dr. Kate Lindeman’s “The Book of the City of Ladies” Link: Mount Saint Mary College: Dr. Kate Lindeman’s “The Book of the City of Ladies”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article for a discussion of Pizan’s role as an early feminist thinker.
 
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3.3.5 Figuring Motherhood: Reason, Justice, and Rectitude   - Reading: Sunshine for Women’s “Christine de Pizan” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

 [Submit Materials](/contribute/)

3.3.6 Allegory, Imagery, and Imagination in The Book of the City of Ladies   - Reading: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Allegory” and Brown University: Allison Hutt’s “Imagined Worlds” Link: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Allegory”(HTML) and Brown University:  Allison Hutt’s “Imagined Worlds” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the definition of “allegory” and then read the entirety of Hutt’s essay, which details the roles of imagination and imagery in The Book of the City of Ladies.  
 
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3.3.7 Voice and Female Dialogue   - Reading: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Ester Zago’s “Christine de Pizan: A Feminist Way to Learning”; California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Christine de Pizan II: The Path of Long Study” Links: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages:  Ester Zago’s "Christine de Pizan: A Feminist Way to Learning"(PDF); California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Christine de Pizan II: The Path of Long Study” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the  short critical essay titled “Christine de Pizan: A Feminist Way to Learning” linked here.  Then, read Dr. Schwartz’s essay in its entirety.
 
Terms of Use: "Christine de Pizan: A Feminist Way to Learning" has been reposted by the kind permission of Julia Bolton Holloway, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.4 The Letters of Abelard and Heloise   - Reading: Sacred Text’s version of The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise: “Introduction” and “Letters II-IV” Link: Sacred Text’s version of The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise: “Introduction” and “Letters II-IV” (HTML)
 
Also available in:
eText format on the Kindle ($6.60)
ePub format on Google Books
 
Instructions: Please read the “Introduction” to the text, as well as Letters II-IV.  To access the text, click on the hyperlink of the page number for each section in the table of contents.
 
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3.4.1 A Brief Introduction to Abelard and Heloise   - Reading: New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Peter Abelard” Link: New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia entry on"Peter Abelard”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire entry on Abelard, which also provides a significant amount of information about his relationship with Heloise.
 
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  • Web Media: BBC’s In Our Time: “Abelard and Heloise” Link: BBC’s In Our Time: "Abelard and Heloise" (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please listen to the entire program for a historical introduction to Abelard and Heloise.
     
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3.4.2 The Authorship Controversy: Were All the Letters Authored by Abelard?   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation of “Heloise’s Letter to Abelard” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation of "Heloise’s Letter to Abelard" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the “General Introduction” as well as translator Scott Moncrief’s “Introduction,” both of which tackle the issue of authorship based on analysis on the first letter.
 
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3.4.3 The Concept of Gendered Writing: Masculine and Feminine Authorship   - Reading: Rutgers University: William C. Dowling’s “The Gender Fallacy” Link: Rutgers University: William C. Dowling’s “The Gender Fallacy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the essay on “The Gender Fallacy” linked here.
 
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3.4.4 The Figuration of Romantic Love   - Reading: Molloy College: Dr. Stephan T. Mayo’s “The Letters of Peter Abelard and Heloise” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)

3.4.5 Epistolary and Dialogue   - Reading: Georgetown University Labyrinth’s version of Martin Irvine’s “The Pen(is), Castration, and Identity: Abelard’s Negotiations of Gender”; The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Bill East’s Medieval Philosophy: "Peripateticus Palatinus: The Story of Abelard, Part I" Links: Georgetown University Labyrinth’s version of Martin Irvine’s "The Pen(is), Castration, and Identity: Abelard's Negotiations of Gender" (HTML); The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’version of Bill East’s Medieval Philosophy: "Peripateticus Palatinus: The Story of Abelard, Part I"(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of Irvine’s critical evaluation of the letters, which includes an analysis based primarily on gender criticism.   
As you read, please note the mention of Abelard’s dialogue, which Irvine reads as a significant part of Abelard’s masculine identity.  Then read the chapter on Abelard’s philosophy from East’s textbook, which will provide you with more information about the importance of dialogue.     
 
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3.4.6 Self-Expression, Openness, and Equality   - Reading: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Chapter 5: Women in the Cloister”; University of California eScholarship: Carl Kelso Jr.’s “Women in Power” Links: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Chapter 5: Women in the Cloister” (PDF); University of California eScholarship: Carl Kelso Jr.’s “Women in Power”(Adobe PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the short essay linked here.  In addition, please read the critical essay titled “Women in Power.”  
 
Terms of Use: "Women in the Cloister" has been reposted by the kind permission of Julia Bolton Holloway, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.5 Men Writing Women   3.5.1 The Romance of the Rose   - Reading: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s version of Guillaume de Lorris’s and Jean de Meun’s The Romance of the Rose Links: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s version of Guillaume de Lorris’s and Jean de Meun’s The Romance of the Rose (HTML)
 
Instructions: To access this text, please scroll down Dr. Wheeler’s webpage until you find “The Romance of the Rose and Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath” in the “Downloads” section.  Please read the introduction and the short excerpts from The Romance of the Rose, which include passages about gender, love, and marriage.  
 
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3.5.1.1 Questions of Authorship and Completion   - Reading: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Literary Contexts II: The Romance of the Rose” Link: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s "Literary Contexts II: The Romance of the Rose" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Schwartz’s essay for a basic review of The Romance of the Rose.  It includes some information about how the poem was written, touching upon the issue of dual authorship.
 
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3.5.1.2 The Figuration of the Sensual Woman   - Reading: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Chapter 3: Sexuality and Textuality” Link: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Chapter 3: Sexuality and Textuality” (PDF)
       
Instructions:  Read the entirety of the short essay linked here, which addresses the issue of a male construction of female
sexuality.
   
Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Julia Bolton Holloway, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

3.5.1.3 Courtly Love and the Troubadour Tradition   - Reading: Medieval-Life.Net’s “Troubadours” and “Courtly Love” Link: Medieval-Life.Net’s “Troubadours”(HTML) and “Courtly Love”(HTML) 
 
Instructions: Read both short entries for more information on the troubadour tradition in literature as well as the theme of courtly love.
 
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3.5.1.4 The Content of a Dream: Framing and Narrative Strategy   - Reading: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Contexts 2: Romance of the Rose” Link: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Contexts 2: Romance of the Rose” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read Dr. Schwartz’s review of the text.  
 
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3.5.1.5 Names, Symbols, and Allegories   - Reading: Washington State University: Dr. Michael Delahoyde’s “The Romance of the Rose”; California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Medieval Allegory” Links: Washington State University: Dr. Michael Delahoyde’s "The Romance of the Rose" (PDF); California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Medieval Allegory”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this quick outline of The Romance of the Rose for information about the imagery, symbolism, and allegory in the text.  Then look over Dr. Schwartz’s definition of “medieval allegory” for a review of the uses of allegory.  Please note the mention of allegory in The Romance of the Rose.
 
Terms of Use: "The Romance of the Rose" has been reposted by the kind permission of Dr. Michael Delahoyde, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.5.1.6 “Picking the Rose”: Concepts of Female Sexuality   - Reading: Georgetown University Labyrinth’s version of Jo Ann Moran’s “The Roman de la Rose and the Thirteenth-Century Prohibitions of Homosexuality”; California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Contexts for Christine de Pizan: Romance of the Rose” Links: Georgetown University Labyrinth’s version of Jo Ann Moran’s “The Roman de la Rose and the Thirteenth-Century Prohibitions of Homosexuality”(HTML); California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Contexts for Christine de Pizan: Romance of the Rose(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read Moran’s short critical analysis on The Romance of the Rose.  In particular, pay attention to the discussion of the “rose” as a sexualized image in the poem.  Then read the section of Dr. Shwartz’s essay titled “Contexts for Christine de Pizan: Romance of the Rose” for more information about the “picking the rose” theme.  (You don’t need to read the entirety of the essay.)
 
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3.5.1.7 Female Critiques and Responses   - Reading: University of Rochester’s version of Christine de Pizan’s Lesser Treatise on the Debate on the Romance of the Rose; California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Selections from the Work of Christine de Pizan” Links: University of Rochester’s version of Christine de Pizan’s    Lesser Treatise on the Debate on the Romance of the Rose (HTML); California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Selections from the Work of Christine de Pizan”(HTML)
 
Instructions: First, please read this excerpt from Pizan’s Letters   for a discussion of the treatment of women in The Romance of the  
Rose.  Then take a look at Dr. Schwartz’s website for more information about Pizan’s role in the debate over The Romance of the Rose, as well as her reactions to “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.”  
  
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use    displayed on the webpage above.

3.5.2 The Wife of Bath   - Reading: Project Gutenberg’s version of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales: “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” Link: Project Gutenberg’s version of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales: “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”(HTML)
 
Also available in:
eText format for the Kindle ($0.99)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire text of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.5.2.1 Brief Introduction to Chaucer and Canterbury Tales   - Reading: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on “Geoffrey Chaucer”; UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Convents, Courts, and Colleges: The Prioress and the Second Nun” Link: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on “Geoffrey Chaucer” (HTML); UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Convents, Courts, and Colleges: The Prioress and the Second Nun” (PDF)
    
Instructions: Read this encyclopedia entry on Chaucer, which includes a biography as well as some basic information about the Canterbury Tales.  Then read Holloway’s essay, paying close attention to her feminist critique of Chaucer’s construction of women.
    
Terms of Use: "Convents, Courts, and Colleges" has been reposted by the kind permission of Julia Bolton Holloway, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

3.5.2.2 Questions of Form and Framing: the Prologue versus the Tale   - Reading: Washington State University: Dr. Michael Delahoyde’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” Link: Washington State University: Dr. Michael Delahoyde’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the essay linked here for more information about the structure of the tale, including the shifts between the prologue and tale as well as structural interruptions.
 
Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Dr. Michael Delahoyde, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

3.5.2.3 A Misogynist Figuration of the Wife?   - Reading: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “The Canterbury Tales IV: The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale” Link: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s "The Canterbury Tales IV: The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this short essay on the text for more specific information about the Wife of Bath’s role as both an example of male conceptualizations of female flaws and a prototype of the rebellious female.
 
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3.5.2.4 Alisoun’s Nonconformity to the Role of Wife   - Reading: San Francisco State University Medieval Forum: Rachel Ann Baumgardner’s “I Alisoun, I Wife Link: San Francisco State University Medieval Forum: Rachel Ann Baumgardner’s “I Alisoun, I Wife”(HTML)
    
Instructions: Please read the entire critical article linked here.  
 
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3.5.2.5 Female Voice by a Male Author: Questions of Self-Expression   - Reading: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Elaine Tuttle Hansen’s “Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender” Link: University of California Press E-Books Collection: Elaine Tuttle Hansen’s “Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the “Introduction” for a discussion of the “feminization” of male authors, especially Chaucer.  Then, read the section on “The Wife of Bath” for a critical analysis of the female voice in the story.  To access “The Wife of Bath” section, click on the arrow at the bottom of the webpage after you finish reading the “Introduction” or click on the hyperlink in the table of contents on the left side of the webpage.
                
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