Fortify the City with Your Tempered Pen : Building the ’City of Ladies’ through Text, Paratext, and Media
Julia Marie Smith
Smith, Julia Marie, Fortify the City with Your Tempered Pen : Building the "City of Ladies" through Text, Paratext, and Media. Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 359, 2008
In an effort to enhance disciplinary understanding of agency especially for women, recover evidence of women exercising agency historically, and shed light on current debates concerning the interaction between word and image in rhetoric, I explore the extent to which Christine de Pizan, a medieval woman writer, invented and articulated her rhetorical agency. For Christine, the text, the image, and the medium of the manuscript are significant in the development of rhetorical agency ; the focus of this thesis is on the nature of that agency, particularly how rhetorical agency is invented within the “City of Ladies” folios from her collected works in Harley Ms. 4431. I frame my study of Christine de Pizan and rhetorical agency with Karlyn Kohrs Campbell’s work on agency, a particularly powerful construct for my project, because it provides space for both text and paratext and it grapples with the postmodern moment while simultaneously retaining its applicability for historical studies. I begin by examining how Christine’s agency emerged through the dialogic between conventions of textual forms. In particular, I consider Campbell’s definition that rhetorical agency occurs in texts, because “texts have agency” and are “effected through form” (Campbell 3). Rhetorical agency emerges as Christine complies with cultural expectations concerning the different conventions of form and then subsequently subverts those same conventions to create a space of resistance for women.