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« Reply #285 on: January 04, 2009, 10:44:12 pm »


In the “Querelle du Roman de la Rose,” de Pizan responded to Jean de Montreuil, who had written
her a treatise defending the misogynist sentiments in the Romance of the Rose.

She begins by claiming that her opponent was an “expert in rhetoric” as compared to herself “a woman ignorant of subtle understanding and agile sentiment.” In this particular apologetic response, de Pizan belittles her own style. She is employing a rhetorical strategy by writing against the grain of her meaning, also known as antiphrasis (Redfern 80). Her ability to employ rhetorical strategies continued when de Pizan began to compose literary texts following the “Querelle du Roman de la Rose.”

In 'The Book of the City of Ladies' de Pizan creates a symbolic city in which women are appreciated
and defended. De Pizan, having no female literary tradition to call upon, constructs three allegorical foremothers:


Justice, and


She enters into a dialogue, a movement between question and answer, with these allegorical figures that is from a completely female perspective (Campbell 6). These constructed women lift de Pizan up from her despair over the misogyny prevalent in her time. Together, they create a forum to speak on issues of consequence to all women. Only female voices, examples and opinions provide evidence within this text. De Pizan, through Lady Reason in particular, argues that stereotypes of woman can be sustained only if women are prevented from entering the dominant male-oriented conversation (Campbell 7). Overall, de Pizan hoped to establish truths about women that contradicted the negative stereotypes that she had identified in previous literature. She did this successfully by creating literary foremothers that helped her to formulate a female dialogue that celebrated women and their accomplishments.

In 'The Treasure of the City of Ladies' de Pizan highlights the persuasive effect of women’s speech and actions in everyday life. In this particular text, de Pizan argues that women must recognize and promote their ability to make peace. This ability will allow women to mediate between husband and subjects. She also claims that slanderous speech erodes one’s honour and threatens the sisterly bond among women. De Pizan then argues that "skill in discourse should be a part of every woman’s moral repertoire" (Redfern 87). De Pizan understood that a woman’s influence is realized when her speech accords value to chastity, virtue, and restraint. De Pizan proved that rhetoric is a powerful tool that women could employ to settle differences and to assert themselves. Overall, she presented a concrete strategy that allowed all women, regardless of their status, to undermine the dominant patriarchal discourse.

De Pizan specifically sought out other women to collaborate in the creation of her work. She makes special mention of a manuscript illuminator we know only as Anastasia whom she described as the most talented of her day.
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