Exemplar and Exception: Biography in the Journal for Women

Marilyn Booth

in May Her Likes Be Multiplied

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780520224193
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925212 | DOI:
Exemplar and Exception: Biography in the Journal for Women

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A biography of celebrated medieval French writer Christine de Pizan (1364–1430) appears in Young Woman of the East in March 1938. This chapter turns to the rhetoric of exemplarity and generalization, which, it argues, signaled for readers the didactic primacy of the genre. To make its argument that “Famous Women” biographies comprised a textual intervention in the woman question more complex than it might appear, it may not be necessary to address that fraught question of “authorial intent.” The chapter concludes by examining practices of gendered biography writing in North America and Europe to suggest common features of exemplary writing that writers in Egypt might have blended with their own knowledge of the Arabic biographical tradition.

Keywords: Christine de Pizan; biographies; Famous Women; authorial intent; exemplarity; generalization; Egypt; gendered biography writing; North America; Europe

Chapter.  20479 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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