- Julie Campbell, Eastern Illinois University, USA
- Series : Women and Gender in the Early Modern World
A comparative analysis, this study examines the interactions of early modern male and female writers within the context of literary circles. In particular, Campbell examines how the querelle des femmes as a discursive rhetorical tradition of praise and blame influenced perceptions of well-educated women who were part of literary circles in Italy, France, and England from approximately 1530 to 1650.
To gain a better sense of how querelle language and issues were used for or against learned women writers, Campbell aligns selected works by female and male writers, pairing them to analyze how the woman writer responds, deflects, or rewrites the male writer's ideological script on women. She focuses first on the courtesan Tullia d'Aragona's response in her Dialogo della infinità di amore to Sperone Speroni's Dialogo di amore, and contrasts the actress/writer Isabella Andreini's pastoral La Mirtilla with Torquato Tasso's Aminta. She then discusses the influence of Italian actresses upon the manners and mores of French women of the Valois court, especially focusing on performative aspects of French women's participation in court and salon rituals. To that end, she examines the influential salon of the aristocratic, learned Claude-Catherine de Clermont, duchesse de Retz, who encouraged the writing of positive querelle rhetoric in the form of Petrarchan, Neoplatonic encomiastic poetry to buttress her reputation and that of her female friends. Next, Campbell reads Louise Labé's Débat de Folie et d'Amour against Pontus de Tyard's Solitaire premier to illustrate the tensions between a traditional and nontraditional querelle stance. She then discusses Continental influence upon English writers in the context of the Sidney circle in England. Moving to the closet dramas of the Sidney circle, Campbell examines the solidarity these writers demonstrated with nontraditional stances on querelle issues, and, finally, she explores how three generations of English literary circles contested querelle issues in her discussion of Philip Sidney's Arcadia, Mary Wroth's Urania, and Anna Weamys's Continuation of the Arcadia.
Campbell's analysis of how the confrontation between querelle issues and the new figure of the learned woman engendered friction across national, cultural and gender boundaries enables us to understand more fully the intertextual connections between differing national literatures of the period. Ultimately, this study provides new perspectives on the production of the texts under consideration, as well as paradigms for approaching other texts from the period.
Contents: Introduction; Tullia d'Aragona, Sperone Speroni, and the inscription of Salon Personae; The Querelle over Silvia: La Mirtilla and Aminta in dialogue; Pastoral defenses and the nymphs of the Salon Vert; Louise Labé, l'Imparfaicte Amye; The Amyes of the English court; Querelle resonance and literary circle ritual in English romances; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Julie D. Campbell is Associate Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, USA. She is the editor and translator of La Mirtilla: A Pastoral by Isabella Andreini.
Reviews: 'An ambitious, very well-conceived, well-written monograph on a topic of great currency… the originality of this study lies in its pairing of male and female writers, together or in groups, that deftly underscores the subtle strategies and realignments that educated women used to circumvent querelle blame. Its analysis … enables us to understand much more fully the intertextual connections between differing national literatures. This is no small feat.'
Anne Larsen, Professor of French, Hope College
‘…excellent study…Campbell uncovers a wealth of fascinating detail on the activities and discourses current in these circles…provides a remarkable astute and inclusive case study which paints a vivid picture of the worlds within which such works emerged…Campbell's critical sophistication is apparent. She is at ease with works in French, Italian, and English, and shows an impressively vast familiarity with the social and cultural histories of these distinct locations in the period. This is a sound and convincing comparative study, and although its goals and methods are ambitious and demanding, Campbell's linguistic and interpretive skills are very much up to the task. Above all, Literary Circles and Gender in Early Modern Europe makes a compelling case for the crosscultural study of early modern works…This book makes an impressive and valuable contribution to gender studies, and should guide future work in crosscultural and intertextual criticism.’ Renaissance Quarterly
‘This volume is an important contribution to the scholarship on early modern writers and the relationship between their participation in literary circles and their role in the debate over women. It also represents a valuable addition to existing studies on the querelle des femmes – a phenomenon that had an inestimable impact on early modern literature and culture, and that clearly merits greater scutiny by scholars. The fact that Campbell explores the cultural and intertextual exchanges in literary circles that contributed to the querelle discourse in diverse regions is both novel and necessary.’ Sixteenth Century Journal
Dr Julie Campbell's homepage on the Eastern Illinois University website
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