La querelle des femmes
En arkipelagisk historia
In the article ”Revisiter la querelle des femmes. Mais de quoi parle-t-on?” the literary historian Éliane Viennot posed a question that has troubled scholars of European women’s history: what do we mean by the term la querelle des femmes? Even though la querelle des femmes is often evoked as an important context for understanding women’s writing in the Renaissance and Early modern periods, the phenomenon seems strikingly difficult to define more exactly. This has led to much terminological debate and confusion, with some scholars outright questioning the usability of the term. In this article, I attempt to bring some clarity to the debate by discussing four possible approaches to la querelle des femmes: thematic, literary, political, and historical. These have all been used by current research. Lastly, I will argue for the usability of the term by suggesting a fifth approach, drawing on the philosopher Édouard Glissant’s and the historian Maria Bucur’s respective use of an archipelagic metaphor. Throughout this article, modern research is connected to texts from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, mainly from France, England, and Italy.