What is a monster? When, where, and why does it turn up? From werewolves to cannibals, fairies to fish-knights, we will look at monstrous bodies, behaviors, and spaces through a range of French-language texts and images from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries. We will think critically about how the “monstrous” is related to non-normative identity and the marginal (often literally at the margins of the known world and in the margins of manuscript books). We will consider how monstrosity intersects with issues of gender, sexuality, race, and religion. We will also engage with some modern theory about monstrosity, as well as recent thinking about modern practices of representing and othering the Middle Ages.
No knowledge of medieval French is required, as all texts will be read in modern French translation. Students will have the opportunity to work with the original language, but this remains completely optional. The course will be taught in French.