Women's Power in Late Medieval Romance

October 2011
3 black and white illustrations
184 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Medieval Romance
ISBN: 9781843842750
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004130

Women's Power in Late Medieval Romance

Amy N. Vines

A reading of how women's power is asserted and demonstrated in the popular medieval genre of romance.
The cultural and social power of women in the Middle Ages is perhaps hard to trace, with evidence for it scarce. This book argues that medieval romances provide a central, but under-explored, source for and examples of such authority. By reassessing the influence exerted by female characters, in a spectrum that includes both intellectual and chivalric aid and, in some cases, patronage, it considers how they functioned as models of cultural, intellectual, and social authority in medieval literary texts. In addition to examples set by the family connections, socio-political networks, and textual communities in which they lived, this study argues that women also learned methods of influence from the books they read. In texts like Troilus and Criseyde and Partonope of Blois, the female reader encounters an explicit demonstration of how a woman`s intellectual and financial resources can be used. The literary representations of women's cultural power expose a continuum of influence from non-material effects to material sway in the medieval patronage system, an influence often unacknowledged in strictly historical and extra-literary sources.

Amy N. Vines is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

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Table of Contents

Prophecy as Social Influence: Cassandra, Anne Neville, and the Corpus Christi Manuscript of Troilus and Criseyde
The Science of Female Power in John Metham's Amoryus and Cleopes
A Woman's 'Crafte': Sexual and Chivalric Patronage in Partonope of Blois
Creative Revisions: Competing Figures of the Patroness in Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal


[An] illuminating study [that] makes a substantial contribution not only to our understanding of medieval romance but to the fields of women's and translation studies as well. SPECULUM

The close readings of English romances in their contexts of rewriting and patronage found in Women's Power in Late Medieval Romance manage to tease out certain newly nuanced insights, and suggest that yes: women could have significant influence on the creative process of romance creation, and thereby in turn influence those in their social circle with the didactic messages of the texts they recommended. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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