French Women Writers Are Focus Of U.Va. Conference
Sept. 17, 1999 -- Politics.
Love. Murder. Women at the palace - pre-revolutionary France saw
it all. Hemmed in by the strictures of the "ancien régime,"
French women of the 16th through 18th centuries
had few outlets for their talents and ambitions. Many died voiceless.
some -- those fortunate enough to be lettered in a predominently
illiterate age -- picked up pens and put their thoughts, desires
and keen observations of contemporary life to paper. And it is the
lives of these women that the upcoming conference, "Femmes Ecrivains
Sous L'Ancien Régime, IV: Les Femmes et la Culture en Transition,"
University of Virginia's Department of French is sponsoring this
conference on women and cultural change, as seen through the eyes
of French women living in pre-revolutionary France. The conference
will be held at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel, Sept. 23-25.
scholars will present papers in English and French on a broad array
of topics. The topics include: marriage and divorce, the question
of ordaining women as priests, women's behind the scenes political
influence, cultural change, women writers, royal women, love and
panel will focus on royal women: "Discours Royaux: des Valois aux
Bourbon" (Royal Discourse: From the Valois to the Bourbons). Scholars
will explore the implications of the Salic Law, which prevented
French women from ascending the throne as did their sisters across
the English Channel. They will look at the role played by Marguerite
de Navarre who intervened to prevent the powerful Catholic Sorbonne
from burning Protestants at the stake as heretics. They will examine
the life of Catherine de Medici, wife of Henri II and mother of
three French kings, who was perhaps unjustly denounced as an Italian
poisoner. And they'll share a revised historic treatment of Marguerite
de Valois, the daughter of Catherine de Medici and Henri II, who
was denounced as a whore in her lifetime by Protestant pamphleteers.
the pen was the only defense for these women. Amazingly enough,
some of their writings are only now being brought to the attention
of the public. (Indeed, Elaine Viennot, a conference participant
from the University of Saint Etienne, recently published the never-before-published
correspondence of Marguerite de Valois (1569-1614).
conference will open Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. with a keynote
address from the eminent medievalist Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet
from the University of Paris. She will speak about women writers
in the Middle Ages: "Mettre la Main à la Plume: Image de
la Femme Ecrivain au Moyen Age." A reception, which is open to the
public, will follow.
more information, call the French Department at (804) 924-4656.
A complete program is available on the conference web site at: http//www/virginia.edu/~french/women.
Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858