Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Quote of the Day: Heather Blurton

To whet your appetite for the first meeting of our ITMBC4DSoMA -- one week from today! -- here are some passages from the first volume we'll be discussing.

From the introduction ("Cannibal Narratives") to Heather Blurton, Cannibalism in High Medieval English Literature:

In the period covered by this book, from about 950-1250, the issues of invasion, territorial redistribution, multi-lingualism, and multi-culturalism provided a continuity across the lines of different dynastic and state formations. Against this historical backdrop, the following chapters read representations of cannibals and cannibalism as a literary response to the politics of external conquest, internal colonization, and territorial consolidation in medieval England. These cannibal narratives have in common, above all, a concern with the articulation of identity -- personal, religious and social ... The trope of cannibalism is concerned, above all, with the articulation of individual and corporate identity: metaphors of consuming, devouring, incorporating, effacing the boundaries between self and other. (2-3)

The medieval representation of cannibalism as a political metaphor is fundamentally dependent upon the possibility of the metaphorical incorporation -- and dismembering -- of the body politic. (7)

While cannibalism is a figurative mode for representing the incorporation of one space into another, it differs from other metaphors of incorporation -- eating, for example -- in so far as it is marked by the violence, fear, and revulsion evoked by the image of one person eating another. (9)

Together, these chapters articulate a discourse of cannibalism as a privileged mode for the conceptualization of English cultural, and ultimately national, identity in the face of the constant trauma of invasion. (11)

Whether articulating annihilation or identity, expressing conquest as consumption or incorporation, representations of cannibalism offer insights into the medieval response to the conquest and consolidation of territory as well as into the literary production of individual and communal identity. The trope of cannibalism in medieval texts consistently functions to alert interlocutors to the political subtexts of cannibal narratives. And the insistent representation of cannibalism in the literature of medieval England invites us to read it as a discursive process of contending with the disintegration of previously maintained differences and the concomitant articulation of new identities. (13)


Liza Blake said...

It looks like great fun! Unfortunately I'm going to have to miss out this round because my library will catalog the book about when the author dies of old age ...

Incidentally, I read your anagram as:
In The Middle, Before Christ, 4-Dimensional body ... interestingly enough, not that inappropriate for this blog.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with this. I will be away beyond all reach of the internet (well except at great cost) - but wish you all (especially Heather) lots of fun and good fortune.

S xx