Animal Skins And The Reading Self In Medieval Latin And French Bestiaries

Hardcover | March 8, 2017

bySARAH KAY

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Just like we do today, people in medieval times struggled with the concept of human exceptionalism and the significance of other creatures. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the medieval bestiary. Sarah Kay’s exploration of French and Latin bestiaries offers fresh insight into how this prominent genre challenged the boundary between its human readers and other animals.

Bestiaries present accounts of animals whose fantastic behaviors should be imitated or avoided, depending on the given trait. In a highly original argument, Kay suggests that the association of beasts with books is here both literal and material, as nearly all surviving bestiaries are copied on parchment made of animal skin, which also resembles human skin. Using a rich array of examples, she shows how the content and materiality of bestiaries are linked due to the continual references in the texts to the skins of other animals, as well as the ways in which the pages themselves repeatedly—and at times, it would seem, deliberately—intervene in the reading process. A vital contribution to animal studies and medieval manuscript studies, this book sheds new light on the European bestiary and its profound power to shape readers’ own identities.

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Just like we do today, people in medieval times struggled with the concept of human exceptionalism and the significance of other creatures. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the medieval bestiary. Sarah Kay’s exploration of French and Latin bestiaries offers fresh insight into how this prominent genre challenged the boundary betwee...

Sarah Kay is professor of French at New York University. Her many books include Parrots and Nightingales: Troubadour Quotations and the Development of European Poetry and The Place of Thought: The Complexity of One in Late Medieval French Didactic Poetry.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 8, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022643673X

ISBN - 13:9780226436739

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“Animal Skins and the Reading Self in Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries is an innovative analysis of how medieval bestiaries are apprehended by their readers—visually, intellectually, and emotively. Kay’s focus on skin works brilliantly to link the bestiaries’ literal and figurative content to its material expression on animal parchment. Kay intersects postmodern theory, animal studies, and manuscript studies in a rich array of close readings.”