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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 741: Monsters on the Margins: Perspectives on the Monstrous in Medieval Texts

Tuesday 7 July 2020, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Marina Montesano
Paper 741-aEnslaved Giants: Ascopard's Monstrosity and Mitigation in the Middle English Bevis of Hampton
(Language: English)
Charlotte Ross, Independent Scholar Bristol
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Mentalities
Paper 741-bDancers from Abroad: Gothic Marginal Illustrations Featuring 'Others'
(Language: English)
Zofia Marianna Załęska, Institute of Art History University of Warsaw
Index terms: Art History - General, Daily Life, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Performance Arts - Dance
Paper 741-cThe Persian Perspective: On The Book of Wonders Outside of the European Centre
(Language: English)
Lucia Simova, Independent Scholar South Orange New Jersey
Index terms: Art History - General, Islamic and Arabic Studies, Manuscripts and Palaeography

Paper -a:
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.

Paper -b:
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.

Paper -c:
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.