Modern criticism of giants in early Middle English literature is largely concerned with the exclusion of these monstrous figures as antitheses to mankind. The topic of this paper addresses an understudied area of this field: the ‘enslaved giant’, where these bodies of extreme otherness are placed firmly within the reassuring familiarity of human society. This study explores the role of Ascopard as an enslaved giant in the Middle English text of Bevis of Hampton, with reference to the Anglo-Norman source text. This paper argues that the Middle English text blurs the boundary between human and animal by reducing Ascopard’s monstrosity and mitigating his villainy, whilst still acting within the parameters of the plot.
Dance, as an integral part of the life of a medieval man, was often depicted in the margins of gothic manuscripts. Alongside dancing villagers, churchmen, ladies and knights, we can spot people overgrew with fur with animal heads. Trying to understand illustrator’s intentions I will consider whether those creatures are actually wildmen, cynocephali, or other legendary monsters believed to live outside western world, or simply masked, carnivalesque people. If the dancers come from faraway land, how do they know the steps? If they are locals, why are they disguised? In this paper I will try to answer aforementioned questions putting it in a broad context of medieval dance.
The world that exists at the periphery of the medieval mind has always been marred with creatures unknown and things not yet understood. If the center moves beyond the European confines, the borders appear to be broadened. Muhammad ibn Al-Qazwini is one of a myriad of scholars that were combining the knowledge of medieval European explorers and bestiary authors and of the changing world around him. This paper aims to grapple with what the periphery looked like from a Persian perspective, with an introduction to Al-Qazwini’s Book of Wonders.