The Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research Presents:
"Histories of Gender and Literary Production"
A panel presentation by GSFR Faculty and PhD Students.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2:30 PM, TSH 719
Melinda Gough, “Royal sexuality and personal monarchy in early seventeenth-century women’s ballet de cour"
As scholars of French literature have long known, in 1610 the court poet François de Malherbe wrote a cycle of five amatory poems celebrating Henri IV’s infatuation with the young Charlotte de Montmorency, princess de Condé. Just prior to these compositions, however, Malherbe authored verses for two court ballets -- a Ballet de la Beauté sponsored and performed by the king’s wife, Marie de Medici, and a Ballet de Madame danced by their eldest daughter, Elisabeth. Examining Malherbe’s verse texts alongside lesser known details of on-stage action, my paper explores ways that royal women’s ballet at this earliest Bourbon court enacted a politics of royal sexuality and a sexualization of royal politics that in turn challenges us to rethink the (patriarchal) nature of royal absolutism. Such court ballets performed by Marie de Medici and younger royal women influenced by her, I argue, incorporated a textual, visual, and aural rhetoric of chaste yet conspicuously opulent beauty designed to bolster the queen’s own authority -- even when this meant challenging the personal prerogatives of increasingly absolutist French kings.
Chantelle Thauvette, "The Lustful Female Voice in The Virgins Complaint of 1642"
During the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, thousands of women gathered in London to deliver petitions to Parliament demanding that Parliament broker peace with the King. Women’s acutely public political activism occasioned violent responses from the London Trained Bands who policed the petitioners’ marches on Parliament and their printed petitions attracted pornographic responses which likewise attempt to invalidate women’s political voice by sexualizing it in mock-petitions which assume the format of female petitions but which replace women’s political concerns for England’s security with invented concerns for sexual gratification. While critics read mock-petitions as attempts to de-legitimize female petitions, I argue that mock-petitions also use lustful female personae to buttress patriarchal hierarchy against the critique female petitioning implies. Looking specifically at an early example of the mock-petition genre, The Virgins Complaint of 1642, I argue that the lustful female voice of its pseudonymous author(s) funnels the polyvocality, sectarianism, and disorder of 1640s politics into an imaginary, lustful female body which can be controlled and contained within the patriarchal structure of the household. Mock-petitions like The Virgins Complaint, I argue, use the lustful female voice to preserve and idealize a specific kind of civilian masculinity by pointing to its absence in public life and/or its usurpation by women. The success of patriarchal defense mechanisms like mock-petitions explains perhaps why women’s political activism in the 1640s did not yield greater political enfranchisement for women in the seventeenth century.
Stephanie Balkwill, "Authored by a Goddess: Divine Women and the Chinese Literary Tradition"
More than any other collection of texts that comes to us from early
Chinese history, the Daoist Canon, or Daozang, acts as a repository of
both the voices of women and images of the feminine. Moreover, in
scouring the texts of the Daozang it is clear that an association has
long been made between women and writing, and that the very act of
writing itself was seen to have religious currency when ascribed to
women. In this paper I will thus explore the various roles that women,
often divinized women, have played in the production of early texts
contained in the Daoist Canon. In so doing, I seek not to create a
history of Daoist women writers, but rather to ask the more fundamental
question of the interplay between religious belief and social reality,
positioned specifically in the relationship between divine women
writers and the actual status of women within the Daoist tradition.