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February 27 , 2009

The Ideas of Man and Woman in Renaissance France

Print, Rhetoric, and Law


The Ideas of Man and Woman in Renaissance France provides the first comprehensive comparison of the printed debates in the 1500s over the superiority or inferiority of woman - the Querelle des femmes - and the dignity and misery of man. Analysing these writings side by side, Lyndan Warner reveals the extent to which Renaissance authors borrowed commonplaces from both traditions as they praised or blamed man or woman and habitually considered opposite and contrary points of view. In the law courts reflections on the virtues and vices of man and woman had a practical application-to win cases-and as Warner demonstrates, Parisian lawyers employed this developing rhetoric in family disputes over inheritance and marriage, and amplified it in the published versions of their pleadings. Tracing these ideas and modes of thinking from the writer's quill to the workshops and boutiques of printers and booksellers, Warner uses probate inventories to follow the books to the households of their potential male and female readers. Warner reveals the shifts in printed discussions of human nature from the 1500s to the early 1600s and shows how booksellers adapted the ways they marketed and sold new genres such as essays and lawyers' pleadings.

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