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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31697

Title: Gender, Power, and Persona in the Poetry of Baudri of Bourgueil
Authors: Brower, Susannah Giulia
Advisor: Townsend, David
Department: Medieval Studies
Keywords: Medieval Literature
Classical Literature
Issue Date: 5-Jan-2012
Abstract: The late eleventh and early twelfth centuries saw a revival in the study of Ovid in the literary circles of the Loire Valley region of France. The poetry of Baudri, abbot of Bourgueil from approximately 1078-1107 and archbishop of Dol from 1107 until his death in 1130, exemplifies this trend. Baudri’s determinedly Ovidian collection contains 256 poems, several of which are addressed to nuns and to boys subject to his authority as abbot. Baudri’s use of Ovid displays an intricate understanding of the issues of gender and power at play in Ovid’s works, in particular the Ars Amatoria and Amores. Baudri uses his position of authority to manipulate his inferiors into behaving in ways that are pleasing to him, crafting an unflattering persona that shares many characteristics with the unsympathetic Ovidian amator and praeceptor amoris. Baudri’s letters to boys problematically evoke the tradition of monastic friendship letters, using classical allusion to represent an inappropriately sexualized and manipulative discourse. His letter to the nun Constance and her reply depict a struggle for control of discourse. Constance, by following Ovid’s instructions to the elegiac puella in her reply to Baudri, demonstrates that she is circumscribed by Baudri’s dominant male discourse, which she nonetheless manages to undermine from within. Baudri’s depiction of the power relationships between himself and his social inferiors mirrors the relationship between the Ovidian praeceptor amoris and the elegiac puella, and consequently engages with the plight of his inferiors in the same way that Ovid’s poetry draws attention to the dangerous lives of the courtesans in his elegy. Furthermore, his Ovidianism can be situated within the context of the contemporary Gregorian Reforms. In the same way that the puella can be seen as a projection of elite Roman males’ experience of disenfranchisement amidst the rise of the Principate, Baudri’s problematic correspondence with his social inferiors reflects social anxieties in the face of the Church’s assertion of centralized power and curtailment of clerical freedoms.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31697
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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