Skip to main content
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - Medieval feminist criticism

Summary

MEDIEVAL FEMINIST LITERARY CRITICISM?

Was there such a thing as feminist literary criticism in the Middle Ages? Given that ‘feminism’ is the ideology of a modern social movement for the advancement of women, taking shape (in its Western European and US forms) in the eighteenth century and based on principles of equality and emancipation in secular societies, it could not have been known in, say, late fourteenth-century England in the forms in which it is known in the United States or Britain today – to say the very least. Moreover, given that ‘literary criticism’ is as well a modern invention, in English dating back to perhaps Alexander Pope, perhaps John Dryden, perhaps Sir Philip Sidney, it is hard to say what relation ‘medieval critical attitudes’ (Copeland, 1994: 500) might have to literary criticism – especially in its postmodern, feminist form in which the modernist pretence of analytical objectivity is abandoned for an ideologically based and politically committed project.

Yet writers in the late Middle Ages did reflect on the activities of reading, interpreting and writing, in a vigorous commentary tradition in Latin and a vibrant vernacular literary practice as well as in the prescriptive tradition of Latin rhetorical artes. Since originality was not the sine qua non of literature that it later became – a main priority of medieval thought was to articulate a tradition – a great deal of late medieval writing can be seen in fact to be rewriting.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

A History of Feminist Literary Criticism
  • Online ISBN: 9781139167314
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139167314
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Bibliography
Allen, Valerie and Ares Axiotis (1997), ‘Introduction: Postmodern Chaucer’, in Chaucer, New Casebooks, ed. Allen V. and Axiotis A., London: Macmillan.
Baird Joseph L. and Kane John R. (eds) (1978), La Querelle de la Rose: Letters and Documents, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Department of Romance Languages.
Blamires Alcuin (ed.) (1992), Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts, Oxford: Clarendon.
Bloch R. Howard (1991), Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cannon Christopher (2000), ‘Chaucer and Rape: Uncertainty's Certainties’, in Studies in the Age of Chaucer 22.
Cannon Christopher(2004), The Grounds of English Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Carruthers Mary (1990), The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chance, Jane (1998), ‘Gender Subversion and Linguistic Castration in Fifteenth-Century English Translations of Christine de Pizan’, in Violence against Women in Medieval Texts, ed. Roberts Anna, Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Copeland, Rita (1994), ‘Medieval Theory and Criticism’, in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, ed. Groden Michael and Kreiswirth Martin, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Delany, Sheila (1986), ‘Rewriting Women Good: Gender and the Anxiety of Influence in Two Late Medieval Texts’, in Chaucer in the Eighties, ed. Wasserman Julian N. and Blanch Robert J., Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Delany Sheila(1994), The Naked Text: Chaucer's ‘Legend of Good Women’, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dinshaw Carolyn (1989), Chaucer's Sexual Poetics, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Dinshaw Carolyn and Wallace David (eds) (2003), Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fenster Thelma S. and Erler Mary Carpenter (eds) (1990), Poems of Cupid, God of Love, Leiden: Brill.
Fleming John V. (1971), ‘Hoccleve's “Letter of Cupid” and the “Quarrel” over the Roman de la Rose’, in Medium Aevum 40.
Heng, Geraldine (2000), ‘The Romance of England: Richard Coer de Lyon, Saracens, Jews, and the Politics of Race and Nation’, in The Postcolonial Middle Ages, ed. Cohen Jeffrey Jerome, New York: St Martin's.
Henryson, Robert (c. 1500/1997), The Poems of Robert Henryson, ed. Kindrick Robert L., Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications.
Karras Ruth Mazo (2005), Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing unto Others, New York: Routledge.
Kruger, Steven F. (1997), ‘Conversion and Medieval Sexual, Religious, and Racial Categories’, in Constructing Medieval Sexuality, ed. Lochrie Karma, McCracken Peggy and Schultz James A., Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lampert Lisa (2004), Gender and Jewish Difference from Paul to Shakespeare, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Mann Jill (2002), Feminizing Chaucer, new edition, Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.
McNamer, Sarah (2003), ‘Lyrics and Romances’, in Dinshaw and Wallace (2003).
Minnis A. J. and Scott A. B., with Wallace David (eds) (1988), Medieval Literary Theory and Criticism c. 1100–c. 1375: The Commentary Tradition, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Richards Earl Jeffrey (ed. and trans.) (1982), The Book of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pizan, New York: Persea.
Riddy, Felicity (1993), ‘“Women Talking about the Things of God”: A Late Medieval Sub-culture’, in Women and Literature in Britain, 1150–1500, ed. Meale Carol M., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Riverside Chaucer (1987), gen. ed. Benson Larry D., Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Schibanoff Susan (1996), ‘Worlds Apart: Orientalism, Antifeminism, and Heresy in Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale’, in Exemplaria 8.
Staley Lynn (ed.) (1996), The Book of Margery Kempe, Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications.
Summit Jennifer (2000), Lost Property: The Woman Writer and English Literary History, 1380–1589, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Summit, Jennifer(2003), ‘Women and Authorship’, in Dinshaw and Wallace (2003).
Wallace David (1997), Chaucerian Polity: Absolutist Lineages and Associational Forms in England and Italy, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Wallace David(2004), Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn, Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Watson, Nicholas (2003), ‘Julian of Norwich’, in Dinshaw and Wallace (2003).
Wogan-Browne Jocelyn, Watson Nicholas, Taylor Andrew and Evans Ruth (eds) (1999), The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280–1520, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Woolf Virginia (1925), ‘The Pastons and Chaucer’, in The Common Reader, New York: Harcourt Brace.