Announcing the first meeting of the In the Middle Book Club for Discerning Scholars of Medieval Arcana (ITMBC4DSoMA, for short). As voted upon below, we will be conducting a group read and communal blogging of Heather Blurton's brand new book Cannibalism in High Medieval English Literature. Details of the book below. Secure your copy now, lug it to the beach all summer (what could be tastier than reading about cannibalism while surrounded by all that flesh?), and check back with us in about a month as we start discussion.
From Beowulf through the literature of the crusades and beyond, cannibals haunt the texts of medieval England. Cannibal Narratives attempts to explain their presence. It explores the relationship between the literary trope of cannibalism and the emergence of national identity in medieval England. If England suffered three centuries of invasion - beginning with the Vikings and continuing through Danish and Norman conquests of the island – it also developed a unique and uniquely literary response to these circumstances. This book reads the representations cannibalism so common in English medieval literature through cannibalism’s metaphoric associations with incorporation, consumption, and violent disruption of the boundaries between self and other. The result uncovers the ways in which these representations articulate a discourse of cannibalism as a privileged mode for thinking about English cultural, and ultimately national, identity in the face of the social crisis.
Heather Blurton is Lecturer in the Centre for Medieval Studies and the Department of English at the University of York
Praise for Cannibalism in High Medieval English Literature
“Organized around the unsettlingly frequent appearance of the figure of the cannibal and scenes of cannibalism in a wide assortment of texts produced in England between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, this book deeply explores the connections between literary representation and the processes of imperial conquest, territorial consolidation, and internal colonization that marked the continuous history of medieval England both before and after 1066. This book will immediately establish Blurton as a major voice in one of the most interesting conversations taking place in contemporary medieval studies. Blurton's study joins the ranks of those medievalists whose work is currently effacing the sharp divide that has separated the early from the later Middle Ages and ‘medieval alterity’ from modernity.”--Robert M. Stein, Purchase College and Columbia University
Table of contents
Cannibal Narratives * Selfeaters: The Cannibal Narrative of Andreas * Eotonweard: Watching for Cannibals in the Beowulf-manuscript * Cannibal Kings: Communion and Community in Twelfth-Century England * Tartars and Traitors: The Uses of Cannibalism in Matthew Paris’s Chronica majora * The Flesch of a Sarazeyn: Cannibalism, Genre and Nationalism