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Disabusing Women in the Old French Fabliaux


Natalie Muñoz

Disabusing Women in the Old French Fabliaux provides a much-needed reevaluation of the role of women in the fabliaux. Spanning the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the fabliaux are short, ribald tales written in verse by mostly anonymous male authors. Their varied portrayals of female characters have traditionally been considered simply misogynistic. Despite recent scholarship contending that the fabliaux are not as anti-feminist as previously thought, there has been until now no full-length study of women in the fabliaux.
Serving as critics of medieval institutions such as courtly love and knighthood, women in diverse roles affirm their agency as subjects through the manipulation of language. The depiction of these women asserting their subjectivity within medieval literary and cultural conventions often distorts the normal relations between the sexes, putting into question the very gender framework within which the fabliaux operate. Written by men for men, the closing moral frequently serves to reassert traditional male dominance, thereby reducing any uneasiness the audience may have felt. Thus the fabliaux cast women as powerful users of language all the while acknowledging the limits of their subversion.
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I would like to thank my husband, Bryan, my three boys, Max, Zane and Aidan, and my mother, Susie, for their patience and love during the production of this book. I would like to recognize Peter Haidu for his insights into medieval literature and reading of this in its infant stage. My most heartfelt gratitude belongs to Eric Gans who read numerous drafts and gave invaluable suggestions, corrections and encouragement along the way. I could never have completed this project if he had not believed that it was worthwhile and that I could do it. My dear friend, Stacey Meeker, provided her remarkable editorial expertise and writing counseling, both of which were integral in my writing journey. I owe many thanks to my department chair, Saúl Jimenez-Sandoval, for his encouragement and support and to my colleagues at Fresno State University, especially Rose Marie Kuhn and Yolanda Doub, for their esprit de corps. I would like to thank all the editors at Peter Lang Publishing for their expertise and commitment to this book: Heidi Burns, Michael G. Paulson, Tamara Alvarez-Detrell, Stephen Mazur and Jackie Pavlovic. I appreciate Steve Nasse and his invaluable help in formatting this text. Lastly and most importantly, I would like to express my appreciation to Willem Noomen for his outstanding achievement in preserving the Old French Fabliaux for future generations. Without his kind permission and that of the Koninklijke Van Gorcum Publishing company to reprint passages of the fabliaux, this work would not have...

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