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Fragmented Beasts: Monsters, Hybrids and Shifting Eschatological Boundaries in Medieval French Texts

GILMORE, GIULIA,DEBORAH,ALESSANDRA (2020) Fragmented Beasts: Monsters, Hybrids and Shifting Eschatological Boundaries in Medieval French Texts. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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The Apocalypse was, for many medieval thinkers, an inescapable and looming reality which could occur at any moment ‘like a thief in the night’ (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Indeed, the Book of Revelations is one of the most illuminated books in the Bible during the Middle Ages for its vivid images of angels, kings and beasts, particularly in England and France with the Anglo-Norman Apocalypse tradition. The prevalence of apocalyptic imagery throughout the Middle Ages as well as theological debates on whether nonhuman animals will be resurrected at the end of time, cultivated eschatological connotations within medieval animal portrayals. This dissertation explores, in conversation with Giorgio Agamben’s theoretical work, the parallels between sovereignty and animality, and proposes a new approach to reading medieval animal portrayals by considering their eschatological implications. Not only do apocalyptic animal and sovereign imagery appear in the Book of Revelations with the burning of beasts and condemned sovereigns, but they also permeate in many medieval literary texts. Fragmented Beasts, examines, then, a series of sovereign figures in Le Roman d’Alexandre, Le Conte du Papegau and Le Roman de Mélusine, whose portrayals raise questions around the human-animal boundary, and reveal how the boundary often falls within the sovereign. Ultimately, the sovereign, who is a threshold figure existing both inside and outside of human law, risks permanently falling into the category of animal and therefore, enduring a fragmented death if the ontological boundary between man and beast is not sustained.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Medieval French Literature, Animal Studies, Medieval Studies, French Literature
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Feb 2021 10:09

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