Session Title

The Beast Epic: Forgotten by the Animal Turn?

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Robert Forke

Organizer Affiliation

Stanford Univ.

Presider Name

Mae Lyons-Penner

Presider Affiliation

Stanford Univ.

Paper Title 1

Ecbasis Cuiusdam Captivi: A Forgotten Precursor to the Medieval Beast Epic

Presenter 1 Name

Emily Groepper

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Paper Title 2

Lies and Lost Cheese: Reading the Speech of the Written Beast

Presenter 2 Name

Joseph R. Johnson

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Georgetown Univ.

Paper Title 3

Semper Asellus Erit! Liminal Animals in Nigel de Longchamps's Speculum stultorum

Presenter 3 Name

Maximilian Wick

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Univ. Frankfurt am Main

Paper Title 4

Respondent

Presenter 4 Name

Robert Forke

Start Date

8-5-2020 3:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1255

Description

Despite a growing body of exciting research on medieval animality, the beast epic, which should loom large in this area of interest, has largely remained on its side lines. Excellent recent studies on medieval animality, for instance by Sarah Kay and Peggy McCracken, have explored the human-animal boundary and human-animal encounters in a broad array of genres such as the bestiary, lay, chanson de geste and various kinds of romance. The beast epic, with its animal protagonists such as Reynard the fox and Burnellus the ass and its satirically transposed portrayal of human society, may seem as too obvious a choice. However, the genre, with its huge spectrum of figurative engagements with contemporary societal issues such as monastic or royal abuse of power and ranging from biting satire to playful humor, remains in many respects poorly understood and awaits a thorough engagement through the lens of the animal turn.

How does our understanding of this often enigmatic genre change when moving away from a human-centered perspective? Where does the boundary between ‘animal’ and ‘human’ behavior lie in these texts? How does the ubiquitous physical and verbal violence in this tradition pierce through or stabilize such boundaries? What happens if non-human animals sound out the limits of human meaning-making through irony, parody and dissimulation?

Seeking to draw the beast epic and animality studies together more fully, this panel invites 15 minute papers pertaining to medieval beast epics in their various Latin and vernacular manifestations, but also the long modern reception history of the genre and comparisons with traditions beyond the Latin West. Robert Forke

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May 8th, 3:30 PM

The Beast Epic: Forgotten by the Animal Turn?

Schneider 1255

Despite a growing body of exciting research on medieval animality, the beast epic, which should loom large in this area of interest, has largely remained on its side lines. Excellent recent studies on medieval animality, for instance by Sarah Kay and Peggy McCracken, have explored the human-animal boundary and human-animal encounters in a broad array of genres such as the bestiary, lay, chanson de geste and various kinds of romance. The beast epic, with its animal protagonists such as Reynard the fox and Burnellus the ass and its satirically transposed portrayal of human society, may seem as too obvious a choice. However, the genre, with its huge spectrum of figurative engagements with contemporary societal issues such as monastic or royal abuse of power and ranging from biting satire to playful humor, remains in many respects poorly understood and awaits a thorough engagement through the lens of the animal turn.

How does our understanding of this often enigmatic genre change when moving away from a human-centered perspective? Where does the boundary between ‘animal’ and ‘human’ behavior lie in these texts? How does the ubiquitous physical and verbal violence in this tradition pierce through or stabilize such boundaries? What happens if non-human animals sound out the limits of human meaning-making through irony, parody and dissimulation?

Seeking to draw the beast epic and animality studies together more fully, this panel invites 15 minute papers pertaining to medieval beast epics in their various Latin and vernacular manifestations, but also the long modern reception history of the genre and comparisons with traditions beyond the Latin West. Robert Forke