Abstract

Abstract:

This essay treats two images that represent Christine de Pizan's literary work as male-associated physical labor. The images, made by the Maître de la Cité des Dames, are found in two manuscripts supervised by the author: BL MS Harley 4431, in Le Livre de la cité des dames, and BnF MS fr. 603, in Le Livre des fais d'armes et de chevalerie. These images show Christine using workers' tools: in the former, a trowel and mortar pan; in the latter, a tree pruner. Many scholars have studied the author's various self-representations in text and image: the most typical images of her writing at a desk are literal and metatextual representations of her authorship. This essay contributes to discussions of her authorial self-representation by considering a different kind of image, in which literary labor is still metatextual—we still see the author represented inside her own text in the act of creation—but is metaphorical instead of literal: the images show Christine's authorial persona doing hard, physical work. By putting laborers' tools in the Christine-figure's hands, these images emphasize the fact that Christine accomplished authorial work traditionally restricted to men. The images recall the Christine-persona's first actions—picking up hammer, nails, and mortar—in the famous Mutacion de fortune passage about her transformation into a "true man." These two images, furthermore, accurately metaphorize particular aspects of her writing alongside the texts they illustrate. Offering another, more imaginative, even playful representational mode, these images enlarge our understanding of Christine's authorial self-fashioning.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2162-9552
Print ISSN
2162-9544
Pages
pp. 121-141
Launched on MUSE
2022-04-27
Open Access
No
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