The Androgyne and the Phoenix : Marguerite de Navarre and Gaspara Stampa: Gendering Early Modern Debates on Love

Sammanfattning: This study explores Marguerite de Navarre’s and Gaspara Stampa’s literary strategies through a close examination of their appropriation of Neoplatonic ideals of love and gender. Against a backdrop of the cultural and literary canon of the sixteenth century, and through a theoretical framework building on Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, it demonstrates how Marguerite de Navarre and Gaspara Stampa destabilize power relations within the discourses of love and gender, thus gendering early modern debates on love.The debates on love concern various ways of understanding classical and early modern treatises on love and are often presented in the genre of the dialogue, such as in the works of Plato, Marsilio Ficino, Leone Ebreo and Tullia d’Aragona. The philosophical ideas presented within these works were vividly discussed in early modern cultural circles and gatherings, such as the Venetian salons and at the French and Italian courts, which strengthens the dialogical character of the debates.More precisely, this study examines how these ideas were interpreted and redefined in Marguerite de Navarre’s collection of novellas, the Heptaméron (1559), and Gaspara Stampa’s poems, Rime (1554), – especially when it comes to their use of the mythical figures of the androgyne and the phoenix. Although we are dealing with two rather different writers, one being a queen and the other a virtuosa, a singer and performer of lyrical poetry, the main argument is that their literary works correspond in terms of the literary strategies they employ in order to give women a voice within a male-dominated culture. Thus, through these strategies, Marguerite de Navarre and Gaspara Stampa subvert norms within prevailing discourses of gender and love.

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