Political Rhetoric, Power, and Renaissance Women

Edited by Carole Levin & Patricia A. Sullivan

Subjects: Communication
Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies
Paperback : 9780791425466, 293 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425459, 293 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Politics, Women's Voices, and the Renaissance: Questions and Context
Carole Levin and Patricia A. Sullivan

2. Christine de Pizan's Cite des Dames and Tresor de la Cite: Toward a Feminist Scriptural Practice
Daniel Kempton

3. Conflicting Rhetoric about Tudor Women: The Example of Queen Anne Boleyn
Retha Warnicke

4. Elizabeth I--Always Her Own Free Woman
Ilona Bell

5. The Fictional Families of Elizabeth I
Lena Cowen Orlin

6. Dutifully Defending Elizabeth: Lord Henry Howard and the Question of Queenship
Dennis Moore

7. The Blood-Stained Hands of Catherine de Medicis
Elaine Kruse

8. Expert Witnesses and Secret Subjects: Anne Askew's Examinations and Renaissance Self-Incrimination
Elizabeth Mazzola

9. Mary Baynton and Anne Burnell: Madness and Rhetoric in Two Tudor Family Romances
Carole Levin

10. Queenship in Shakespeare's Henry VIII: The Issue of Issue
Jo Eldridge Carney

11. Reform or Rebellion?: The Limits of Female Authority in Elizabeth Cary's The History of the Life, Reign, and Death of Edward II
Gwynne Kennedy

12. Wits, Whigs, and Women: Domestic Politics as Anti-Whig Rhetoric in Aphra Behn's Town Comedies
Arlen Feldwick

13. Queen Mary II: Image and Substance During the Glorious Revolution
W. M. Spellman

14. The Politics of Renaissance Rhetorical Theory by Women
Jane Donawerth

15. Women and Political Communication: From the Margins to the Center
Patricia A. Sullivan and Carole Levin

Notes on Contributors


This book deals with women in political power during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Mary II) and about the gender-based stereotypes that were produced rhetorically about them.


The authors examine the political rhetoric of a number of powerful women of the Renaissance, male responses to this rhetoric, drama and fiction by both male and female authors considering women and political context, and how historians—then and now—have evaluated powerful women.

A multi-disciplinary collection, the book includes an essay about Christine de Pizan and her fifteenth-century look at powerful women, an examination of seventeeth-century rhetoricians and how they viewed and reshaped the Renaissance in terms of giving power to women, and examples of English and French women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The afterword contextualizes these examples and raises questions about modern issues. The book provides a greater understanding of gender and power in the Renaissance as well as insights into the contemporary age.

At State University of New York College at New Paltz, Carole Levin is Professor of History. Levin is also the author of The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power; Heroic and Villainous Images of King John; as well as the coeditor of Ambiguous Realities: Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance and Sexuality and Politics in Renaissance Drama. At State University of New York College at New Paltz, Patricia A. Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Communication.


"This book is the only one that I have seen on the topic of women in Renaissance politics. It adds a crucial piece to the puzzle of women's contributions to political decision-making throughout the centuries. This anthology shows women's power even in cultures and societies where women systematically were denied public authority. It will be a valuable book for anyone interested in women's history and women's rhetoric. " — Helen M. Sterk, Marquette University