This chapter discusses the contents and objective of this book which is to explore the history of female literary in the context of the story of Dido, a character in a Latin epic poem. It explains that Dido's stories dramatize the existence of competing histories in what counts as the cultural literacy of the West. This chapter suggests that the idea of a uniform national language has a long and socially fraught history that, when studied, invites us to complicate our ideas about what it means to be literate in one's national language. This volume examines the problems of defining and valuing literacy in the late medieval and early modern polities in imperial nations and presents case studies of four women writers including Christine de Pizan, Marguerite de Navarre, Elizabeth Cary and Aphra Behn.
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