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Abstract

This research addresses Le Livre de la Cité des Dames—translated into English as The Book of the City of Ladies—as an outstanding work of proto-feminist literature from 1405. It is written by a woman, in defense of women. Christine de Pizan plays the central character in her own work, in which she combats misogyny with a revised account of history. She battles prevalent ideals of courtly love and gender inequality as things that are not merely repulsive or immoral, but wholly heretical. Rather than focusing on historical accuracy, de Pizan uses the literary power of her narrative to expose and reverse the inaccuracies in traditional, male-dominated histories. In doing so, she elevates the substance of her argument by masterfully imitating a dominant storytelling medium of her day. The work overturns patriarchal violence by inverting the cultural, literary, and theological tropes of her day, establishing herself as an authority equal in intelligence and eloquence to any man.

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