Christine de Pizan's "The Book of the City of Ladies" as reclamatory fan work


  • E. J. Nielsen University of Massachusetts Amherst



Affect, Giovanni Boccaccio, Fan fiction, Gender, Medieval studies


In what ways can medieval texts be looked at as fan works? How might the rhetorical tools of fan studies or affect theory aid in further understanding of these texts? Likewise, can we use medieval understandings of literary production to look at modern fan works in order to complicate our contemporary ideas of authorship? Here I consider how Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies (Le Livre de la Cité des Dames) can be read as a reclamatory fan work addressing issues of representation and gender within both the texts it responds to and the larger culture within which the work is situated. Moreover, contextualizing de Pizan's work as fan work can help fan scholars by locating fan studies within a broader literary history. By reframing these earlier works of literature as part of a longer history of women's writing that also involves the works being done today within modalities of fan writing, and by reconsidering fan works as part of a historical continuum of women's writing, we, much as de Pizan herself did, create a theoretical space that historicizes, contextualizes, and indeed valorizes women writers of both fannish and nonfannish works.

Author Biography

E. J. Nielsen, University of Massachusetts Amherst

PhD student at UMass Amherst, MFA from New Mexico State University