This essay argues that Madeleine de Scudéry's engagement with the early modern dialogue genre in Conversations sur Divers Sujets reflects and strengthens the conversational theory that scholars have pinpointed as an important feminist rhetorical strategy. By imagining and constructing the dialogue to function as a metadiscourse on the conversational theories that provide the speaking points of her characters, Scudéry enacts her rhetorical theory of sermo in addition to describing it. After an overview of varying forms of the dialogue genre in Renaissance Europe, a comparison between Scudéry's Conversations and Sir Thomas Elyot's The Defence of Good Women illuminates Scudéry's feminist construction of the genre and exemplifies her choice to use the dialogue to both perform and advance her theories on conversational practice.

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