This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to make a mild ‘case’ for women in medieval culture. It argues that the case for women has been slow to achieve recognition because texts which incorporate it have remained fairly inaccessible, and have not been studied extensively as a group. The case for women is described as a mode of discourse which aims to build a positive representation of women in response to either specified or implicit accusations. It can be thought of as a character reference, the obverse of a character assassination. It will characteristically take the form of direct oration, but forms such as debate, narrative, and even lyric can also accommodate it.
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