June 2021, 11:00 UTC+1
Women writers of seventeenth and early eighteenth-century France had a complex relationship with ‘classical reception’. Not only did women rarely have access to classical languages, but the expectations of modesty, shaped by men and women alike, were at odds with the learning and erudition entailed by knowledge of ancient Greek or Latin. In this talk, I will compare how three very different women writers — Madeleine de Scudéry (1607-1701), Antoinette Deshoulières (1638-1694) and Anna Dacier (1647-1720), a novelist, a poet and a translator — constructed their relationship to ancient culture as key to their authorial ethos. I will then examine the relationship between this ethos and their uses of, and engagement with, antiquity. I suggest that these three cases challenge assumptions about gender, knowledge, and canon formation and serve as useful touchstones for interrogating methodologies of reception studies.
About Helena Taylor
Helena is a Lecturer in French Studies at Exeter, having completed her DPhil at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Her first book, published with OUP in 2017, examines the reception of the life of Ovid in 17th-century French culture. In May 2018, she embarked on a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to work on her second book Savantes: Women Writing Antiquity in Early Modern France.
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