First Advisor

Gina Greco

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in French






Christine de Pisan (approximately 1364-approximately 1431) -- Criticism and interpretation, Christine de Pisan (approximately 1364-approximately 1431). Livre de la cité des dames, Saint Joan of Arc (1412-1431) -- Poetry, Women -- Identity, Femininity in literature, Heroines in literature, Sex role -- France -- 15th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 97 pages)


Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Christine de Pizan has resurfaced in the academic and literary spheres as a paragon of proto-feminist thought. This modern fascination with the fifteenth-century writer is largely grounded in her surprisingly progressive views on a woman's right to receive an education, to govern and achieve financial freedom. More recently, scholars have lauded Christine's later works for their reinterpretation of what it meant to be a woman in fifteenth-century Europe. The present study examines this latter goal of Christine de Pizan's writing specifically in the context of the heroic feminine identity she constructs throughout Le Livre de la cité des dames and reiterates in her final work Le Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc. While Christine de Pizan's heroines have previously been the focus of many historians' and literary scholars' analyses, this investigation proposes a new interpretation of these women that examines the author's pointed use of language, religious symbolism and descriptions of the female body to construct a unique heroic identity -- a synthesis of passivity, activity, the masculine and the feminine. Such an understanding of Christine's heroines also reveals the author's personal connection to the dynamic image of womanhood presented in her work, which in turn has implications for the historical practicality of Christine's passive heroines.


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