chapter  9
18 Pages

Le Livre de la cité des dames

Reconfiguring Knowledge and Reimagining Gendered Space
WithJudith L. Kellogg

Christine de Pizan's Livre de la cite des dames ranges extraordinarily far in its contexts. Drawing upon an encyclopedic recall of inherited tradition, it moves temporally throughout history and geographically from Christine's contemporary France to exotic and ancient realms on the borders of Christine's known world. The preparation of the allegorical space on which Christine de Pizan creates her City of Ladies does not simply involve digging and discarding, for the false assumptions are removed using an archaeological model. As Christine reconstructs her subject position in the course of building her textual city, so her female reader also reconstructs herself in the act of reading text. To return to Roberta Gilchrist's archaeological model, in laying out her repository of newly configured knowledge, Christine maps out the metaphorical spaces that women can internalize within their own experience. Christine de Pizan's Cite des dames incorporates extraordinarily rich intersections of ideas relating female bodies, the construction of knowledge, social space, and female subjectivity.