Defending Women’s Learning: Mary Queen of Scots as Champion and Exemplum

Thu 15 Feb
Books & Ideas

Armelle Nayt, an Associate Professor at UVSQ Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Visiting Scholar of The University of Edinburgh, and a specialist in 16th Century Scotland will deliver a talk about Mary Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland.

This talk will revist early modern collective biographies in which Mary Queen of Scots features as a learned lady. These include Brantôme’s Vie des dames illustres (1666), Jean de la Forge’s Cercle des femmes savantes (1663), Jacquette Guillaume’s Dames Illustres (1665), Marguerite Buffet’s Éloges, des illustres savantes anciennes et modernes (1668), and, for the 18th century, George Ballard’s Memoirs of Several Learned Ladies of Great Britain (1752), Richard de Bury’s Histoire abrégée des philosophes et des femmes célèbres (1772) and Riballier and Cosson’s Notice alphabétique (1776).

This will be the occasion to reassert the importance of this genre in one of the first struggles of feminism: women’s access to education. By looking at Mary outside mainstream history, we will change perspective and re-dimension an event in the light of its importance in women’s history. This event is the speech she gave at the Louvres in 1554 in front of the French court and in presence of the king Henry II. The preparatory exercises she was given ahead of her oration are seldom discussed in history books on the queen of Scots as if she had nothing to say on the topic of female education. The prosopographies that will be discussed say otherwise, and so will we.

Armel Dubois-Nayt is a lecturer in the DYPAC laboratory (Heritage and Cultural Dynamics) EA 2449, UVSQ - Paris Saclay. She works on theories around women's power in early modern Scotland and England and more generally on the discourses on equality, inequality of the sexes which constitute the quarrel women. She is currently preparing a monograph devoted to Mary Stuart in the quarrels over power, knowledge, writing and marriage.

In collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures’,

as part of Dr Séverine Genieys-Kirk’s series of public events, Learning to see the power of women:

cultural encounters between past and present‘.