• "Monsters and the Exotic in Early Medieval England," The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English, ed. Elaine Treharne and Greg Walker (Oxford University Press, March 2010)

    Author(s):
    Susan Kim, Asa Simon Mittman (see profile)
    Date:
    2010
    Group(s):
    Early Medieval, Medieval Art, Medieval English Literature, Medieval Studies, Monsters and Monstrosity
    Subject(s):
    Monsters, Art, Medieval
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Tag(s):
    monster theory, Early medieval literature, Monstrosity, Medieval art
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/z8w8-w093
    Abstract:
    The dominant literate culture of early medieval England – male, European, and Christian – often represented itself through comparison to exotic beings and monsters, in traditions developed from native mythologies, and Classical and Biblical sources. So pervasive was this reflexive identification that the language of the monstrous occurs not only in fictional travel narratives, but at the heart of constructions of the native hero as well as the Christian saint. In these constructions we read the central contradiction in this literature: the monster must be ‘other’ and yet cannot be absolutely so; on the contrary, the monster remains recognizable, familiar, seductive, and possible. In this essay, we discuss textual sources for the early medieval monstrous, sources ranging from Pliny to Augustine and Isidore. As we survey early medieval texts dealing with the monstrous in genres including catalog, epic, and hagiography as well as visual depictions in manuscript illustration and the mappaemundi, we consider historically particular cultural and political motivations for the representation of the monstrous in these texts, among them the early Christian conversions and shifting national boundaries.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
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