Lecture Title: Rethinking Gender and Language in Stephen Scrope's Epistle of Othea
Abstract: For decades the scholarly consensus about Stephen Scrope’s translation of Christine de Pizan’s Epistre Othea has asserted that it is a precise translation of her work but that he must have held some antifeminist positions because he denies Christine recognition as author, and he inexplicably genders as masculine multiple women from classical mythology. Yet a thorough examination of all three manuscripts and the closest extant manuscript to Scrope’s source challenges these views. Even though these copies are affected by scribal variants, as a whole, these manuscripts provide a fuller picture of Scrope’s process as translator and his difficulties grappling with the complexity not only of Christine’s often-unexpected perspectives but also of her language itself and even some of the classical myths that structure her work. When Scrope’s process is reconstructed, the evidence reveals him to be, at worst, passively antifeminist and, at best, an imprecise and uninformed translator. At its core, this analysis provides a methodology for examining manuscript traditions and reevaluating what previous scholars have meant when they term Scrope’s Epistle a “good” translation.
Bio: Misty Schieberle specializes in 14th- and 15th-century English literature, especially Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate; gender and political literature; Christine de Pizan and medieval French literature in England; and manuscript studies. Her current research explores gender, fortune and fate, and manuscript studies in works by Chaucer, Gower, Lydgate, and Christine de Pizan that were popular in late medieval England. Her first monograph – Feminized Counsel and the Literature of Advice in England, 1350-1500 – explores Middle English political literature that represents women as wise, beneficial counselors to kings. She is currently working on a critical edition of medieval English translations of Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea for the Middle English Texts Series and related studies of the diverse manuscript history of the Othea in French and English.