Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Warning: loud horn tooting
Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain is hot off the press. My usual experience with a new book involves eagerly opening the crisp volume to its first page and -- despite my weeks spent obsessing over copyedited text and galleys -- instantly finding a typo. This time I decided to defeat fate via a circuitous route and opened to the last page of the epilogue ... where I immediately found a typo ("Meier" for the Hebrew name "Meir").
Here is some information on the book, lifted from the Palgrave website. It is priced too high for individual purchase ($75 and certainly not worth every penny), but I do encourage you to request it through your nearest library. Later in the week I will post another excerpt from the work; for a draft of the introduction, look here.
Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain examines an island made turbulent by conquest and civil war. Focusing upon history writing, ethnography, and saints' lives, this book details how community was imagined in the twelfth century; what role the monsterization of the Welsh, Irish and Jews played in bringing about English unity; and how writers who found the blood of two peoples mixed in their bodies struggled to find a vocabulary to express their identity. Its chapters explores the function and origin of myths like the unity and separateness of the English, the barbarism of the Celtic Fringe, the innate desire of Jews to murder Christian children as part of their Pesach ritual. Populated by wonders like a tempest formed of blood, a Saracen pope, strange creatures suspended between the animal and the human, and corpses animated with uncanny life, Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain maps how collective identities form through violent exclusions, and details the price paid by those who find themselves denied the possibility of belonging.
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is Professor of English at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. His work has long explored identity, postcoloniality and monstrosity in medieval literature. He is the author of Medieval Identity Machines and Of Giants, and the editor of The Postcolonial Middle Ages, Thinking the Limits of the Body, Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, and Monster Theory:Reading Culture. His essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Speculum, New Literary History, Exemplaria, and the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Table of contents
Introduction: In medias res * Acts of Separation: Shaping Communal Bodies * Between Belongongs: History's Middle * In the Borderlands: The Identities of Gerald of Wales * City of Catastrophes * The Flow of Blood in Norwich * Epilogue: In medias res