The Monstrous Middle Ages

ISBN 13: 9780708318225

The Monstrous Middle Ages

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9780708318225: The Monstrous Middle Ages

The figure of the monster in medieval culture functions as a vehicle for a range of intellectual and spiritual inquiries, from questions of language and representation to issues of moral, theological and cultural value. Monsters embody cultural tensions that go far beyond the idea of the monster as simply an unintelligible and abject other. This text looks at both the representation of literal monsters and the consumption and exploitation of monstrous metaphors in a wide variety of high and late-medieval cultural productions, from travel writing and mystical texts, to sermons, manuscript illuminations and maps. Individual essays explore the ways in which monstrosity shaped the construction of gendered and racial identities, religious symbolism and social prejudice in the Middle Ages. Reading the Middle Ages through its monsters provides an opportunity to view medieval culture from fresh perspectives. It should be of interest in the concept of monstrosity and its significance for medieval cultural production.

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The monster pops up in a variety of contexts and performs various functions in medieval culture acting, most often, as a metaphor. These ten essays examine the `meaning- laden ' monsters of the High and Late Middle Ages and the cultural uses of monstrosity within different agendas. The essays show that whereas the monster may appear on the surface to be a marginal entity in manuscript illuminations and various writings, it is in fact symbolically and ideologically central to many aspects of medieval culture often with gender, ethnic and religious connotations. Essays include Jesus as Monster (Robert Mills) ; Blood, Jews and Monsters in medieval culture (Bettina Bildhauer) ; Demonizing the night in medieval Europe (D Youngs and S Harris) ; Apocalyptic Monsters (A Pluskowski) .

About the Author:

Robert Mills is Lecturer in English at King's College, University of London. He has published widely on issues of gender and sexuality in medieval culture and has contributed to Gender and Holiness (Routledge, 2002), and Medieval Virginities (UWP, 2003). Bettina Bildhauer recently completed a Ph.D in German literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge. She is a contributor to Consuming Narratives (UWP, 2002).

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