Ever since Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431,, historians have studied her lengthy trial interrogations for a glimpse of who Joan the person was. They've offered society both pious and saucy descriptions, portrayed her as a "religious mystic, rebellious girl..."unnatural" transvestite," an Amazon, a schizophrenic, a patriot and, depending upon who you read, a common or uncommon woman of the Middle Ages. Lacking a definitive conclusion, historians, musicians, popular literary figures, modern filmmakers, and other larger social groups have gone on to portray her in their own ways: canonizing her as a saint, promoting her to the rank of France's national heroine, and characterizing her in literature. With primary documents offering no clues as to Joan's physical appearance-aside from her shortly cropped hair-inspired artists' paintbrushes have since flown in all directions. In an attempt to organize the diverse collection of portrayals, much revered Jehannic scholar, Regine Pernoud, argued in the 1998 English iranslation of her book, Joan of Arc: Her Story, that most of the images of Joan fit into "three major traditions: Joan the shepherdess to whom the saints appear, Joan the female soldier carrying armor, the sword, and the standard; and finally, Joan the saint at the stake in Rouen." However, a close examination of Joan in film, literature, art, and music reaching back as far as 1429 offers what I would argue is a fourth tradition that Pernoud either overlooked or neglected. This fourth category defines foan with terms and imagery familiar to contemporary audiences-the then-existing society each work was created and presented within-most often concerning issues of morality, courage, and honor, so as to mold Joan into an updated role model. This fourth tradition can be further subdivided into three distinct approaches which generations have used when updating Joan: attributing characteristics appealing by contemporary standards to her, transporting her to a contemporary setting, and translating her within the context of contemporary circumstances.
"Lost in Translation: Retelling the Tale of Joan of Arc,"
Augsburg Honors Review: Vol. 4
, Article 4.
Available at: https://idun.augsburg.edu/honors_review/vol4/iss1/4