in Dido's Daughters

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780226243115
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226243184 | DOI:

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter discusses the contents and objective of this book which is to explore the history of female literary in the context of the story of Dido, a character in a Latin epic poem. It explains that Dido's stories dramatize the existence of competing histories in what counts as the cultural literacy of the West. This chapter suggests that the idea of a uniform national language has a long and socially fraught history that, when studied, invites us to complicate our ideas about what it means to be literate in one's national language. This volume examines the problems of defining and valuing literacy in the late medieval and early modern polities in imperial nations and presents case studies of four women writers including Christine de Pizan, Marguerite de Navarre, Elizabeth Cary and Aphra Behn.

Keywords: female literary; Dido; cultural literacy; national language; imperial nations; Christine de Pizan; Marguerite de Navarre; Elizabeth Cary; Aphra Behn

Chapter.  12006 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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