Author (Your Name)

Jamie Smith, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. English Dept.




Remembered for her decidedly feminine voice, Labe proves in her work that a woman was capable not only of feeling everything a man feels in a love affair, but expressing the emotions articulately and with passion. Labe does not accept the inferior status and submissive role the Petrarchan tradition assigned to women. She asserts the equality of the sexes by demonstrating their equality in love, going far beyond the conjugal debt recognized by theologians. To Labe, a woman was no less the complement to a man than a man was was to a woman; both were individuals who defined themselves independently. Recent historians, especially those of women's history, have questioned the idea of the "Renaissance," a concept first introduced by the nineteenth-century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, who asserted that this age gave birth to the "modern man" and "individualism." His work has remained influential among historians today, despite serious criticisms. One of his critics, Joan Kelly, was the first historian to question whether women had a "Renaissance." Kelly determined that the age that had opened a world of opportunity and knowledge to men subjected women to restrictions that had not been felt since antiquity.


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women's literature, Louise Labe