blog It Was a Woman’s World, Too: Christine de Pizan

Discussion in 'Research' started by Black Dragon, May 13, 2018.

  1. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Article Team

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    A. E. Lowan submitted a new blog post:

    It Was a Woman’s World, Too: Christine de Pizan
    by A. E. Lowan

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    As speculative fiction authors, writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror have the opportunity to create entirely new worlds for their readers. We can create new species, invent systems of magic, and imagine humanity traversing the galaxy. Yet very often these adventures exclude women. It is too often said that readers will reject women in speculative fiction stories, especially those set in low tech settings or fantasies that resemble medieval Earth, because there is a notion that women did not take on public or adventurous lives in Earth’s history.

    In this series, we’d like to introduce you to women who did just that. From writers to soldiers to pirates, we will tell you the stories of amazing women who led lives of public importance. We hope that the lives of these women encourage you to reach beyond the expected and to give voices to extraordinary women in your own stories.

    Meet Christine de Pizan (1364 – c. 1430)

    Christine de Pizan was born in 1364 in Venice. When she was a small child, Christine moved with her family to Paris. Her father, Thomas de Pizan, had taken a position at the Court of Charles V of France as the king’s astrologer, alchemist, and physician.

    Thomas de Pizan believed in educating his daughter and had Christine tutored not just in music, dance, and theology, but also in rhetoric, logic, and philosophy.

    When Christine was...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
     
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  2. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Grandmaster

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    What are some of the challenges in representing more women in speculative fiction? How can those challenges be overcome?

    It seems mostly becoming MC's and considered competent without being called Mary Sue for it. There are probably other places that say it far better then I. And as for the challenges, it seems to be mostly about getting more women in the main roles and just getting people used to it. Why I'm more likely to use a woman MC then the standard man in most my writing.
     
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  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Christine continues to serve as a model. For the modern fantasy writer, that niche of a woman educated privately, by a loving father, at once would set an MC apart. I'm struck, otoh, that she only emerges as an active agent with the death of the males around her. That feels awfully close to the trope of having the hero of a story be an orphan. No entangling alliances to have to explain or write away.

    I'd love to know how she got her break. Was there a connection between Pisa and France? How did she know about those romantic exploits, or were they all ficitional? She's sitting down there in Pisa; how did she get her break? Did she have local musicians perform them locally, or did she from the start put them in written form, pay the costs of printing and distribution? Did she have a web site? ;-)

    Once established, then yeah, I get it. One thing about aristocratic society: life can be wretched for those on the outside, but if you manage to break in, life can be pretty sweet. That dynamic would translate pretty directly into a fantasy tale.

    I'm also curious about the literary criticism. I'm not surprised she wrote it; I'm surprised it got read. Who was the audience for that?

    Finally, why did she retire to a convent? Was it a spiritual conversion, or was it mainly financial or political? That's a part of her life I can't see making it into a modern piece. It's too far removed from our secular perspective.

    Anyway, thanks for the article. I'm a big fan of looking at specific historical personages, rather than so-called Great Events or Ideas. It's the particular, more than the general, that appeals to the writer in me.
     
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  4. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Grandmaster

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    Probably should have also said to look at other historical women like her. The website Rejected Princess comes to mind. Along with those that show up on the Badass List.
     
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  5. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Article Team

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    I absolutely love Rejected Princesses. The author does a wonderful job at both bringing little known female historical figures back to the narrative, he makes their stories accessible.
     
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  6. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    How fascinating! So she was like an O.G. ghostwriter, huh? Great piece. Thank you for this great bit of history.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    I didn't know about Rejected Princesses. Took a look at the medieval stuff and came away pleased. It's not only presented in a clever way, he cites his sources and is open to additional information. In short, he is firmly in scholarly tradition. Bookmarked.
     
  8. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Lore Master

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    Female writers were very rare back in medieval times because very few people were literate and books were hand written. Only the invention of the printing press in 1440 did reading and writing become more than a privilege reserved for a few. However literacy levels remained very low among all classes until the early 19th Century when the introduction of universal and compulsory education made literacy almost universal. Until compulsory education was introduced few women could read, let alone write. That''s why we hear very little about female writers in medieval times.

    These days there are a lot of female writers, even in fantasy or similar writing, but it might involve having to look around a bit. The British are well known for producing many female writers, even in fantasy writing, but a lot of them don't get published in the United States so Americans never get to hear about them. Here in New Zealand women dominate the fictional writing scene to the extent there's too much emphasis on writing books that win the Man Booker Prize and other high end literary awards, not enough on books that are both ripping good yarns and big enough to K.O a religious missionary on my doorstep.

    As for female protagonists there are simply so many stupid and contradictory do''s and don't's about writing female protagonists these days that people just stop bothering with female protagonists. I prefer to give the middle finger to such lists and just write stories about female characters whatever way I want. I've always hated beautiful princesses, Mary Sue characters, angst riddled teenage heroines and female perennial victims of whatever evil is in the headlines these days so none of them will populate my fantasy writing. I like my fictional women to be like the women I like to meet in real life: intelligent, sharp as a whip and fiercely independent.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  9. Storm Wolf

    Storm Wolf Acolyte

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    And women read and write, but men don't (Way of Kings)!
     
  10. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Valar Lord

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    REJECTED PRINCESSES! I was going to mention that, but you got there first. Love those stories. I have the book.
     
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