Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Myth, Montage and Visuality in Late Medieval Manuscript Culture: Christine De Pizan's 'Epistre Othea'

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Myth, Montage and Visuality in Late Medieval Manuscript Culture: Christine De Pizan's 'Epistre Othea'

Article excerpt

Marilynn Desmond and Pamela Sheingorn, Myth, Montage and Visuality in Late Medieval Manuscript Culture: Christine de Pizan's 'Epistre Othea' (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003). xi + 344 pp.; 6 colour plates. ISBN 0-472-11323-2. $65.00. With its lavish cycle of one hundred miniatures, Christine de Pizan's mydiographical Epistre Othea has begun to attract the attention of scholars of medieval iconography in recent years. In their new study of this important text, Marilynn Desmond and Pamela Sheingorn show how Christine's illuminations engaged critically with medieval visual tradition as conveyed in audioritative manuscripts of the period.

Adopting in chapter 1 the notion of Eisensteinian cinematic montage as a form of non-linear visual representation which disrupts the voyeuristic male gaze in its appropriation of the female as object of violence and desire, Desmond and Sheingorn argue that Christine's montage of images in the Epistre Othea provides her implied male reader with models of masculine chivalric identity that are at variance with those bequeathed by the misogynistic and violent Ovidian and epic traditions. Thus, in chapter 2, they discuss how Christine reinterprets the Roman de la Rose with its images of castration anxiety and violent fetishism that accompany the tales of Saturn, Narcissus, and Pygmalion, in favour of a more temperate view of masculinity based on moderation of speech and service to women. …

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