First Advisor

Gina Greco

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in French


Foreign Languages


Pernette Du Guillet (1520?-1545) -- Criticism and interpretation, Pernette Du Guillet (1520?-1545) Rymes



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, 98 p.)


This thesis examines Pernette du Guillet's Rymes, focusing of her feminine poetic voice and her merit as a Neoplatonist Renaissance poet. In a time when literary endeavors were almost exclusively the domain of men, women presenting themselves as writers were often judged on the appropriateness of women writing as well as the quality of their work. Women had to forge their own identity as writers and find their own voice within a ~patriarchal society and literary community. The Introduction provides a social and literary framework for Pernette's work and presents pertinent ideas on using feminist literary criticism in the analysis of medieval and Renaissance literature. Modern criticism can often be a hindrance to unbiased reading of medieval and Renaissance literature when it is used to support modern concerns instead of illuminating the original value of these works. This Introduction offers some solutions to such a conflict. Renewed interest in women's work, for example, is one of the positive repercussions of feminist criticism. The literary canon is expanding to include more women as a result of feminist concerns. Feminism should not, however, negate the original value of a work because modern readers want to impose new interpretations over the original intent. The first half of this thesis explores Pernette's Neoplatonism in contrast to the Petrarchism of her mentor, Maurice Sceve and the third member of L' Ecole Lyonnaise, Louise Labe. Pernette's association with Sceve provides the necessary context for an examination of her poetry because their poetic correspondence and their romantic relationship provide many of the themes found in Rymes. This relationship also allows a comparison between Sceve's poetry and the work of his student, Pernette, who develops into a mature poet during the course of her apprenticeship. Louise Labe's style offers a sharp contrast to Pernette's and Labe' s means of establishing her feminine poetic voice furnish an essential comparison for comprehending Pernette's more subtle technique. The second part of this thesis examines individual poems from Rymes, analyzing Pernette' s choice of theme and her manipulation of vocabulary. Pernette's feminine poetic voice is a combination of the obvious grammatical manifestations of her female gender as well as the more subtle indications of the breadth of her voice. She demonstrates that she is aware of societal limitations, but refuses to let stereotypical roles dictate her poetic persona. Pernette uses her relationship to the more famous Sceve in order to build a framework for her own work. Her adeptness as a poet lies in her ability to maintain her role as a lover and a student while conveying a proficiency that belies her reticent demeanor.


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