Monsters and Monstrosities in the Middle Ages
Reading and visualising the landscape in Beowulf is, like most elements of the poem, an ambiguous and dreamlike experience. The narrative both constructs and is constructed by isolated images of specific locations. In this paper I intend demonstrate that the monstrous margins in Beowulf are imbued with more than simply distance from the centre. In order to understand the monstrousness of the margins and their inhabitants we need to look at the symbolic value of these far flung landscapes themselves.
This article examines the monstrous attributes of the dog-headed St. Christopher and his struggle to convert the pagan king Dagnus in the Old English Passion of St. Christopher. St. Christopher’s body is a monstrous body unlike any found in the Beowulf–manuscript because it does not serve to affirm normative cultural values as negative contrast, but rather seeks to convert them. Dagnus cannot overcome the monster because he, that he might eternally live, must become like a monster.
This paper concerns the hybrids in the margins of medieval psalters and Books of Hours. In showing examples from the Rutland Psalter, the Luttrell Psalter, and The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux, I ask what are these hybrids’ role in medieval visual culture and how do they operate to construct a type of other in what may seem to be very pious texts. I suggest that the figures’ carnality and monstrous embodiment is a type of mirror of otherness within the intended reader/viewer.