Engaging Texts
  • Laurel Amtower
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Christine de Pizan describes herself at the beginning of the Book of the City of Ladies as “sitting alone in [her] study surrounded by books on all kinds of subjects,” where she habitually reads and contemplates the texts before her.1 The picture of the medieval reader, Christine demonstrates the concerns and reactions of a medieval audience to the books that fulfilled and informed their culture. As she reads a misogynist treatise by the writer Mathéolus, whom she informs us is considered an authority by her contemporaries, she offers a response that is at once personally motivated and objectively contextualized: she registers dismay at Mathéolus’s complaints against women, self-doubt that what he says may be true, and finally recognition that this authority must surely be in error. Only after a reasoned consideration does she condemn the ignorant writer who propagates hackneyed ideas that are ultimately harmful to society, lamenting that an auctor would rather continue a negative tradition than critically engage or question it.


Fifteenth Century Open Book Early Modern Period Reading Habit Reading Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  2. 2.
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    This phenomenon has been traced by Colin Morris, The Discovery of the Individual: 1050–1200 (New York: Harper and Row, 1972); Robert Hanning, The Individual in Twelfth-Century Romance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977); and Carolyn Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), among others.Google Scholar
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© Laurel Amtower 2000

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