Writings composed to reveal and denounce the defects and crimes of women was a recognized genre in the Middle Ages, and it generated both amusement and dismay. While the intertextual richness of misogynous writing has long been established, these texts don’t just faithfully parrot each other—they often play on each other to subversive effect. I’ll look at several French and Italian texts that aren’t so well known even in medieval French and Italian studies, and show how they interact in unexpected ways to nuance their misogynous claims. I’ll also spend some time on modern misogynous genres, surprisingly (if unintentionally) faithful to their medieval antecedents.
F. Regina Psaki is the Giustina Family Professor of Italian Language and Literature at the University of Oregon. She publishes on Boccaccio, Dante, and medieval courtly genres, translating chivalric romances from French and Italian: Il Tristano Riccardiano (2006),Le Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole (1995), and Le Roman de Silence (1991). With Gloria Allaire she co-edited The Arthur of the Italians (2014); with Thomas C. Stillinger she co-edited Boccaccio and Feminist Criticism (2006).
Her current project, The Traffic in Talk About Women: Misogyny and Philogyny in the Middle Ages, explores the lively medieval genres of anti-woman diatribes and defenses of women and shows the range of opinion in medieval writers on the nature and behavior of women (and, in some cases, of men).