Mes Rochers hautains: a study of Madeleine and Catherine Des Roches and the Culture of Renaissance Poitiers

Tarte, Kendall Bracy, Department of French, University of Virginia
McKinley, Mary, Department of French Language and Literatures, University of Virginia
Lyons, John, As-French Lit-Gen Linguistics, University of Virginia
Weber, Alison, As-Spanish Italian & Portuguese, University of Virginia
Horne, Janet, As-French Lit-Gen Linguistics, University of Virginia

This dissertation argues that Madeleine Des Roches and her daughter Catherine Des Roches recreate in their writings women's movement through the spaces of early modem life. In their lives and their poetry, the Des Roches moved successfully between the domestic realm of the household and the public realm of the city. These two apparently opposing realms illustrate early modem social practices: the private space of the home contrasts with the public space of the city. However, another space also influenced the Des Roches. The salon they hosted in their Poitiers home offered a liminal space that mediated between private and public. The influence of the salon space on the women's lives as writers calls into question the traditional public private dichotomy. The Des Roches are among those women who in fact moved through early modem spaces, from the private and public to those not as easily classified. Their works offer insights into the variety of spaces that women inhabited in early modem life, including the home, "the salon, and the city.

The writings of the Des Roches present an original consideration of women's domestic issues in the Renaissance. Madeleine Des Roches contributes to the ideological discussion of women's role in marriage, responding to various writers, including the marriage manual author Francesco Barbaro. Catherine Des Roches concentrates on traditional women's work to offer a new depiction of spinning. Two poems show Madeleine Des Roches's move toward public space. In one ode, she draws on a variety of intertexts--including works by Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, Ronsard, and Du Bellay--to create a new image of the city. In another poem, her unique depiction of civic issues offers her an opportunity to venture into the public realm and places her in dialogue with contemporary historians of Poitiers, including La Popeliniere and d'Aubigne. Finally, the events of the 1579 Grands Jours and the production of the collaborative salon volume La Puce contributed to the Des Roches' unique literary perspective. They use poetic strategies that move away from those of the male salon poets, including Etienne Pasquier, in order to enter the public realm of authorship.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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