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Feminized counsel and the literature of advice in England, 1380-1500

Author: Misty Schieberle
Publisher: Turnhout : Brepols, [2014] ©2014
Series: Disputatio (Turnhout, Belgium), v. 26.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The term 'feminized counsel' denotes the advice associated with and spoken by women characters. This book demonstrates that rather than classify women's voices as an opposite against which to define masculine authority, late medieval vernacular poets embraced the feminine as a representation of their subordination to kings, patrons, and authorities. The works studied include Gower's 'Confessio Amantis', Chaucer's  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
History
Sources
Named Person: John Gower; Geoffrey Chaucer; Christine, de Pisan; Geoffrey Chaucer
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Misty Schieberle
ISBN: 9782503550121 2503550126
OCLC Number: 880556189
Description: x, 224 pages ; 24 cm.
Contents: Women, counsel, and marriage metaphors in John Gower's Confessio Amantis --
'Lerne this at me!' Alceste as a model for the Poet in the Legend of Good Women --
Exemplarity and Chaucer's Melibee: contexualizing Prudence's authority --
Male translators' identification with women: the Epistre Othea in Middle English --
Conclusion.
Series Title: Disputatio (Turnhout, Belgium), v. 26.
Responsibility: Misty Schieberle.

Abstract:

The term 'feminized counsel' denotes the advice associated with and spoken by women characters. This book demonstrates that rather than classify women's voices as an opposite against which to define masculine authority, late medieval vernacular poets embraced the feminine as a representation of their subordination to kings, patrons, and authorities. The works studied include Gower's 'Confessio Amantis', Chaucer's 'Legend of Good Women' and 'Melibee', and English translations of Christine de Pizan's 'Epistre Othea'. To advise readers, these texts draw on the politicized genre of mirrors for princes. Whereas Latin mirrors such as the 'Secretum secretorum' and Giles of Rome's 'De regimine principum' represented women as inferior, weak, and detrimental to masculine authority, these vernacular texts break traditional expectations and portray women as essential and authoritative political counsellors. By considering Latin and French sources, historical models of queens' intercessions, and literary models of authoritative female personifications, this study explores the woman counsellor as a literary topos that enabled poets to criticize, advise, and influence powerful readers. 'Feminized Counsel' elucidates the manner in which vernacular poets concerned with issues of counsel, mercy, and power identified with fictional women's struggles to develop authority in the political sphere. These women counsellors become enabling models that paradoxically generate authority for poets who also lack access to traditionally recognized forms of intellectual or literary authority.

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