Christine de Pizan

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and works of Christine de Pizan, who wrote at the French Court in the late Middle Ages and was celebrated by Simone de Beauvoir as the first woman to ‘take up her pen in defence of her sex.’ She wrote across a broad range, and was particularly noted for challenging the depiction of women by famous writers such as Jean de Meun, author of the Romance of the Rose. She has been characterised as an early feminist who argued that women could play a much more important role in society than the one they were allotted, reflected in arguably her most important work, The Book of the City of Ladies, a response to the seemingly endless denigration of women in popular texts of the time.

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  • Helen Swift No other episodes
    Associate Professor of Medieval French at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Hilda's College
  • Miranda Griffin 2 episodes
    Lecturer in French and Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge
  • Marilynn Desmond No other episodes
    Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Binghamton University

Reading list

  • Tracy Adams, Christine de Pizan and the Fight for France
    Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014
  • Barbara K. Altmann and Deborah L. McGrady (eds.), Christine de Pizan: A Casebook
    Routledge, 2003
  • Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski & Kevin Brownlee (trans.), The Selected Writings of Christine de Pizan
    W. W. Norton & Company, 1997
  • Rosalind Brown-Grant, Christine de Pizan and the Moral Defence of Women: Reading Beyond Gender
    Cambridge University Press, 1999
  • Charity Cannon Willard, Christine de Pizan: Her Life and Works
    first published 1974; W. W. Norton & Company, 2013
  • Christine de Pizan (trans. Rosalind Brown-Grant), The Book of the City of Ladies
    Penguin, 1999
  • Christine de Pizan (trans. Sarah Lawson), The Treasure of The City of Ladies; or, The Book Of The Three Virtues
    Penguin, 2003

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Programme ID: b08sksb4

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Auto-category: 305.4 (Women’s History)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Christine de Pizan, born in 1364, earned her living as a writer at the court of the French kings in Paris.