Catherine des Roches: Reshaping Lives and the Quest for an Afterlife in L’Agnodice and Les Missives

This paper considers the ways in which literature may reflect an imagined life and a writer’s desire for an afterlife, by examining the different forms of life that Catherine des Roches explores in her works: firstly, an ideal, exemplary life for herself and other sixteenth-century French women, and secondly, the creation of Catherine’s own eternal afterlife. With specific reference to her poetic texts L’Agnodice, her letters to printer Abel L’Angelier and Le Ravissement de Proserpine (Les Missives), we can identify a trajectory through which Catherine navigates her position as an intentionally childless, unmarried and “monstrous” learned woman in French society. It is here that we conclude literature to be an important medium through which Catherine forges her own place in the world. Using the book-as-child topos, her literary “births” not only allow her to create an exemplary life for other women, but they also preserve her name for posterity.

School of Advanced Study
Nupur Patel (Oxford)
Event date: 
Friday, 15 May 2020 - 4:18pm