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Peer Reviewed

1

Abstract

As a medieval woman writer, Christine de Pizan (ca. 1364-1430) was in an unusual position which necessitated not only that she establish her authority as a vernacular writer, like her male counterparts, but also that she find a way to reconcile her scholarly activity with her sex. In the Livre de la cité des dames, Christine finds a unique solution to her problem of authority and identity. It is my contention that in this work Christine presents an ingeniously crafted and multifaceted metaphor of the development of human life in the womb, what I term her “womb metaphor.” The Cité des dames involves an overarching allegory whereby Christine's book narrates the process of its own development, presenting it as the construction of the City of Ladies. The task that Christine sets out for herself in the Cité is no less than the composition of a convincing and erudite response to the entire misogynistic scholarly tradition. The womb metaphor not only involves a scene of metaphoric conception within the space of a womb, but also constitutes another dimension of the global book/city/defense allegory of Christine-author's project.

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