Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts

Overview

' ... it is impossible / That any clerk wol speke good of wyves.' Behind the words of Chaucer's Wife of Bath lies a vast corpus of medieval misogynistic writings. These texts, which range from those of the Church Fathers to a rich array of vernacular literature, have had a profound influence on the status of women in the west. Yet, despite the recent surge of investigations into women's situation, no one book has sought to collect together the key voices of medieval antifeminism, let alone to present the voices sometimes raised, even at that
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Overview

' ... it is impossible / That any clerk wol speke good of wyves.' Behind the words of Chaucer's Wife of Bath lies a vast corpus of medieval misogynistic writings. These texts, which range from those of the Church Fathers to a rich array of vernacular literature, have had a profound influence on the status of women in the west. Yet, despite the recent surge of investigations into women's situation, no one book has sought to collect together the key voices of medieval antifeminism, let alone to present the voices sometimes raised, even at that epoch, in defence of women. The urgent need for a single and substantial sourcebook of these materials in modern translation is met for the first time in this volume, which includes an introduction, notes, and commentary. The accessibility of the better-known texts here (from Jerome to Walter Map; from Heloise and Abelard to Christine de Pizan and Chaucer) will be welcomed by those engaged in medieval and women's studies; the lesser-known writings concerning for instance the sexual 'double standard', and women and the priesthood, will provide unexpected discoveries for specialists and beginners alike. Indeed, a surprising range of early texts championing women - including material never previously available in translation - is here represented. All those concerned with women's studies and with medieval and later culture (European as well as English) will find Woman Defamed and Woman Defended fascinating to read as well as a useful resource.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An essential compendium of primary sources, until now inaccessible to undergraduates. Should be a permanent addition to any syllabus in feminist studies of the Medieval/Renaissance period."--Eunice D. Howe, University of Southern California

"[A] fascinating anthology....All the selections in Woman Defamed are presented in clear, modern English, including many new translations by Blamires. Each entry is helpfully accompanied by a brief editorial note about the author and the work....A tremendous repository of reference material....A steady, cumulative reading of the anti-feminist tracts in Woman Defamed is an opportunity to peer into the distant past and find it disturbingly familiar....The chief contribution of Blamires' anthology is to expose the sources of our misogynistic inheritance to the clear sun of readable English."--Women's Review of Books

"An excellent anthology--thorough and clearly organized, with useful notes--which I would expect to become a standard adjunct to courses in medieval and woman's studies."--Suzanne Rahn, Pacific Lutheran University

"A splendid volume. Contains so many of the resources which have hitherto been scattered through hard-to-find editions, all now nicely gathered and scrupulously presented. A real treasurehouse for understanding the complexities of medieval ideas of gender."--Roy M. Luizza, Tulane University

"The selections are tremendously useful."--Linda Marie Zaerr, Boise State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198119715
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

St David's University College, Lampeter, University of Wales
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Table of Contents

List of Plates
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
I The Roots of Antifeminist Tradition 17
(i) Ancient Satire 17
17
From The Art of Love and Amores 18
25
From Satire VI 25
(ii) Scripture 31
(iii) Physiology and Etymology 38
From Generation of Animals 39
From On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Body 41
From Etymologies 43
(iv) 'Matter' and 'Form' in Later Writings 46
From Monologium 46
From the Summa theologiae 47
From The History of the Destruction of Troy 48
2 The Church Fathers 50
From The Appearance of Women 50
From Homily IX on St Paul's Epistle to Timothy 58
59
From On Widows 60
From Paradise 61
From the Commentary on Luke 61
From Against Jovinian 63
From Letter 22, to Eustochium 74
From Letter 77, to Oceanus 76
77
From Confessions 78
From The Literal Meaning of Genesis 79
From City of God 81
3 The Legacy of the Church Fathers 83
From the Decretum 83
87
From The Story of His Misfortunes 88
From Letter 3: Heloise to Abelard 89
From The Story of His Misfortunes 91
91
From the Summa theologiae 92
From Tristan 94
Rule for Anchoresses 95
From Part II 95
From Part IV 97
4 The Satirical Tradition in Medieval Latin 99
The Life of Secundus 99
The Femme Fatale 100
The Letter of Valerius to Ruffinus, against Marriage 103
From On Love 114
Against Marrying 125
5 Antifeminist Tales 130
The Book of the Wiles of Women 130
The Widow 135
From Sermon 66 in Sermons for All 144
6 Vernacular Adaptations in the Later Middle Ages 148
From The Romance of the Rose 148
From The Corbaccio 166
From The Lamentations of Matheolus 177
7 The Wife of Bath 198
The Wife of Bath's Prologue 198
8 Responses to Antifeminism 223
The Thrush and the Nightingale 224
The Good Woman 228
From Letter 6, 'On the Origin of Nuns' 232
From The Book of Consolation and Advice 236
The Response to Richard de Fournival's Bestiary of Love 242
The Southern Passion 244
From A Lover's Confession 248
250
'Whether women are permitted to instruct men' 251
'Whether women are suitable to consecrate the sacrament' 255
From The Register of Bishop Trefnant 257
From Dives and Pauper 260
Merelaus the Emperor 270
9 A Woman Defends Women 278
From The Letter of the God of Love 279
From The Quarrel of the Rose 286
From The City of Ladies 289
Bibliography 303
Index 315
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