Elizabeth L’Estrange is a Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Birmingham. Before joining Birmingham she was an FRS-FNRS post-doctoral research fellow in History of Art at the University of Liège. In 2011 she spent three months in Rome as a boursière of the Fondation Darchis and in 2013 received an award from the British Academy Neil Ker Memorial Fund for her project on Anne de Graville’s Library. Her monograph, Holy Motherhood: Gender, Dynasty and Visual Culture in the Later Middle Ages (Manchester University Press, 2008) received the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship’s first book prize in 2010. She has published a number of articles on women’s artistic and manuscript patronage in the fifteenth and early sixteenth century.
Women’s artistic and literary patronage (c. 1400-1600) in France and Burgundy; illuminated manuscripts, especially books of hours; theories of gender and sexuality and their application to the medieval and early modern period; text-image relations; the querelle des femmes.
Anne de Graville and Literary Debate at the French Court
This project looks in detail at Anne de Graville’s early sixteenth-century rewriting of Alain Chartier’s Belle dame sans mercy (1424), a text which sparked much criticism for its ambiguous representation of the female protagonist. I will consider how, through the Rondeaux, Anne engaged with the querelle des femmes, the literary debate on the nature of women that began in the fifteenth century with Christine de Pizan and which came to include Chartier’s text. I will analyse the only-surviving copy of the Rondeaux in both its literary and manuscript context to offer new readings of this text and of Anne’s place in French courtly culture. For example, I will draw on methodologies from codicology and material culture to examine how the parallel presentation of Anne’s text alongside Chartier’s, the dedication to Queen Claude of France, and the prominent presence of Anne’s motto can help to further our understanding of the Rondeaux’s reception. This will feed into a formal literary analysis of the Rondeaux that takes into account other querelle texts, previous responses to the Belle Dame, and books in Anne’s own library in order to contextualise her reframing of this polemical text. The result will be published as a monograph that will not only constitute the first modern study of this neglected female author and bibliophile but also further our understanding of women’s contribution to literary and book culture at the early modern French court.