Reviewing Conduct Books as Feminist Rhetorical Devices for Agency Reforms

Reviewing Conduct Books as Feminist Rhetorical Devices for Agency Reforms

Peitho Volume 21 Issue 1 Fall/Winter 2018

Author(s): Florence Elizabeth Bacabac

Abstract: This essay extends the possibility that historical conduct books encourage women to work from within to enact agency reforms, particularly to survive the hostilities they faced in first-century China as well as exterminate misogynistic attacks in medieval Europe. With two translated works spanning across socio-historical milieus, Ban Zhao’s Lessons for Women (first-century China) and Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the Three Virtues (fifteenth-century France) reveal systematic approaches for ethical praxis that may have only been used to gain agentive powers for women through rhetorical education, contributing to the ontogenesis of pro-feminist movements. 

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