Rhetorique d'Imagination et de Sprezzatura Chez Louise Labe et Isabella Andreini
"Rhetoric of Imagination and of Sprezzatura in Louise Labé and Isabella Andreini" redefines the relationship between gender and imagination in the act of writing. The goal is not to argue that women write in a different manner than men, rather, by reading their texts together with male contemporaries, this work illustrates how writers engaged in various strategies, and in particular the rhetoric of imagination and of sprezzatura, to establish themselves within the literary culture of the period. Labé (c.1520-1566) and Andreini (1562-1604), grant themselves the authority to write by modeling their needs on the examples set by their male counterparts. The Introductory Chapter consists of a statement of the purpose of the study, its significance, and an outline of the work; it also includes biographies of Louise Labé and Isabella Andreini and contextualizes their socio-economical status. Chapter 1: Prefaces in Louise Labé and Isabella Andreini, A Means to Self-Promotion, analyzes the prefaces of Labé and Andreini, in which they solicit patronage. This practice is an important tool for those seeking social mobility, security, and recognition by others. Chapter 2: Rhetoric of Imagination in Louise Labé and Isabella Andreini, elaborates the role and essential androgyny of imagination. By focusing on the fundamental characteristics of this faculty, its "power of sensory representation," this dissertation argues that Petrarca and Montaigne's idea of imagination is intimately related to man's desire to transform reality, to produce images and, ultimately, to engage in the act of writing, and both Labé and Andreini self-consciously reflect on this function in their words. Both writers develop a rhetoric of imagination that permits them to surpass the very question of gender by taking a position of power with respect to their writing and their rights as authors. Chapter 3: Rhetoric of sprezzatura in Louise Labé and Isabella Andreini, examines how Labé and Andreini use sprezzatura as a rhetorical strategy that allows them to identify with their male ounterparts and cross the boundaries of society while seeking "fame." From my analysis of imagination and sprezzatura I have observed that these are two conditions that create tension between their private and public spheres of Labé and Andreini. On the one hand, imagination is a mental effort, and belongs to the realm of the private; and, on the other, sprezzatura is tied to the rules of eloquence, thus belongs to the realm of the public. In their texts this duality manifests itself through the interplay of the androgynous "I" which masks their identity. In conclusion, this study shows how Labé and Andreini manipulate the existing dominating structure of society to fit gender expectations.