Gender Ideologies, Women Writers, and the Problem of Patronage in Early Modern Italy and France: Issues and Frameworks
To enter history, one must have access to discourse, whether that access takes the form of being written about or of writing. Women could themselves be patrons, and thus “fathers” to writers and artists. They could also be muses, inspirational amorous figures of absent presence who engendered poetic creation in men, paternal beings — phallocratie women — who enabled a “feminized” male poet to appropriate the creative labour of birth. Early modern Italy and France inherit medical, philosophical, and theological discourses defining “woman.” Women writers of the noble classes in early modern Europe could confine themselves to religious topics and thus acquire the ecclesiastical protection of one powerful institution of support through “canonization”. As in Italy, the canonized women poets in the secular tradition came from an urban, commercial centre, Lyon.