Christine de Pizan and Emily Dickinson: Feminine Power through Textual Production

By Keith Kopka.

Published by The International Journal of Books, Publishing, and Libraries

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 11, 2016 Free Download

The use of digital surrogates to study manuscripts has revolutionized the ways in which scholars compare texts. In this paper, I propose that exploring the similarities between modern and medieval publishing practices is a new way to investigate contemporary theories of feminism through textual production. By comparing the publishing output of Christine de Pizan (1365–ca.1430) and Emily Dickinson (1830–1886), scholars are confronted with two authors and publishers, separated by four centuries, who were faced with similar challenges because of their gender. I argue that both Pizan and Dickinson were able to overcome these challenges by producing their own texts, which enabled them, through the use of rhetoric, to build authorial personae, which granted free expression of their feminine power as “creators” and “nurturers” of their art and its social message. Pizan did this most spectacularly in the “Queen’s Manuscript,” a gift to the Queen of France, which allowed Pizan to direct the reigning queen’s patronage to her own advantage within a patriarchal construct. Dickinson, on the other hand, consciously withdrew from traditional publishing practices to maintain an uncorrupted feminine poetic voice. This paper, through historical and textual analysis of each author, contributes a new perspective to the ongoing study of feminism within the field of Text Technologies.

Keywords: Publishing, Feminism, Production

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 14, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.23-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 11, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 870.311KB)).

Dr. Keith Kopka

Managing Director of the Creative Writing Program, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Assistant Editor, Narrative Magazine; Poetry Editor, The Southeast Review; Professor, Poetry and Creative Writing, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA