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Lecture

POL201Y1 Lecture Notes - Virtual Community


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL201Y1
Professor
Sophia Moreau

Page:
of 2
POL 200: January 19, 2011
Modes of political argument in Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies.
I. The City as Metaphor-both removes women from their primary source of identity in
the family, but leads them to focus on their actions in the present
II. Disputation
III. Paradiastole- redescription of perceived weaknesses so as to have them perceived
anew as strengths
IV. Exempla
Argument of the lecture: Pizan’s text is multi-layered in terms of its argument. While
she demonstrates to us that women have performed well in positions of political power,
she also suggests that ultimately this is not the goal to which we should ask all women to
aspire. Indeed, her political project is much more radical, suggesting that we reassess
what types of roles and activities are indeed most beneficial to the establishment and
sustaining of collective life.
A proper and wider vision of justice must not only acknowledge that we cannot in
principle exclude certain classes of people from positions of power and privilege as they
can show the capabilities to succeed there. More deeply, justice requires that we rethink
the frameworks that identify what positions and activities are most valuable to political
communities. Greatest honours are due not to kings, legislators and founders, but to
those who have developed the practical skills and crafts without which civilization would
be impossible.
How do we judge peoples contributions?
She has to deal with the presuppositions of her times
Wants to restore a sense of dignity to women
-public roles for women in the church
-she needed to develop an arguments to escape heresys
-places arguments in orthodox Christian traditions
city as a metaphor: city of ladies, how does it function?
-literary device: trope
-image that allows for women to rethink their identities, reinterpret themselves
-serves as an inspiration for noble action
-the city of ladies/god, serve as a virtual community
-membership in Augustans city relies on will and destiny
omechanism which disengages its members
othink of your life here on earth as a pilgrimage
-pizan: gender and demonstrated virtue
-notion leads to reflect on feeling of belonging
-disengage from the community which they originally drew their identities
-community of women is to become the primary community of identification
-women are brought out from their traditional frame of reference
-transhistorical community: changing understanding of themselves
-controlled by women themselves – developing an alternative understanding of
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nature
-think of women in a more practical way – examples of living behavior
-acknowledgement that women have made contributions to human life—but also
solidarity
-liberation for men in an indirect way
-arguably we can see how the momentary freeing of women from the family opens
up possibilities for men
- doesn’t want to advocate a fully disengaged view
-pizans members must remain unknown to one another except by word of mouth
and reputation
-can only be sustained by the continued acts of virtue and acts of recognition an
remembrance
-places responsibility on the women on earth (for the wellbeing of the city)
-serves as a device to make them strangers on earth only to bring them back again
by making them responsible for maintaining their city, to restore their dignity
-city is not just a community—infused with military metaphor – not just a
conceptual image, a body of knowledge, understanding about the real history –
help women desire strength for future attacks – defensive component
-lady reason refutes the position and principle, and reinforces it by giving
examples
-one cannot judge intellectual capacity
-
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