Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Ellen Ketels

Reader 2

Lisa Cody

Rights Information

© 2024 Yu Y Chen


In this thesis, I explore the subject of reproduction through the Lais of Marie de France on two levels: procreation and literary reproduction. The space of procreation and the space of literary production are both rich, productive spaces to Marie as they represent terrains of contestation and negotiation. As author, custodian and “caretaker” of the lais, Marie herself is deeply occupied with the question of who gets to articulate and imagine the human body, and how the body itself can be used as a wellspring of knowledge. Like how Marie views the literary space and material act of writing as a site of care, labor, and creativity, she also considers the female reproductive body in the lais as a functional, collaborative, experimental and simultaneously magical space that is often tended to with care and creativity in the medieval period. I take a feminist point of view by arguing that Marie’s lais are centered on the body and lived experiences. The lais are meant to be read in an embodied manner. Marie’s greatest obsession and her most significant project in the lais is language. To Marie, the act of translation is a praxis of life.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.