Houghton-Medieval Studies Lecture in Early Book History


Monday, September 17, 2018, 5:30pm to 6:30pm


The Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library

Sylvia Huot (Pembroke College, University of Cambridge), Nuanced Readings: Iconographic Shifts in Manuscripts of Christine de Pizan's "Epistre Othea". This lecture is co-sponsored by the Committee on Medieval Studies and Houghton Library.

Sylvia Huot is Professor of French Literature and a Fellow of Pembroke College, the University of Cambridge. A leading scholar of medieval French literature, she is the author of From Song to Book (Cornell University Press, 1987), The Romance of the Rose and its Medieval Readers (Cambridge University Press, 1993), Allegorical Play in the Old French Motet (Stanford University Press, 1997), Madness in Medieval French Literature (Oxford University Press, 2003), Postcolonial Fictions in the Roman de Perceforest (D.S. Brewer, 2007), Dreams of Lovers and Lies of Poets: Poetry, Knowledge and Desire in the Roman de la Rose (Legenda, 2010), and Outsiders: The Humanity and Inhumanity of Giants in Medieval French Prose Romance (Notre Dame University Press, 2016).  Professor Huot is a Fellow of the British Academy, and a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.

Prof. Huot's lecture will address Christine de Pizan's early fifteenth-century Epistre Othea, which presents 100 exemplary figures, drawn from classical mythology and glossed so as to offer a set of moral teachings aimed at a young knight. In manuscripts made under her direct supervision, the iconography reflects, and sometimes expands upon, Christine's ideological agenda. Later manuscripts, while generally similar in their programs of illumination, often feature subtle shifts in iconographic detail. These may reflect a different didactic focus, a greater interest in the Ovidian sources, or diminished interest in Christine's teachings about such topics as class and gender. Prof. Huot will present a comparative survey of four manuscripts, discussing these variations and the different readings that they foster.