In The Skin Of A Beast: Sovereignty And Animality In Medieval France

Hardcover | May 9, 2017

byPeggy Mccracken

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In medieval literature, when humans and animals meet—whether as friends or foes—issues of mastery and submission are often at stake. In the Skin of a Beast shows how the concept of sovereignty comes to the fore in such narratives, reflecting larger concerns about relations of authority and dominion at play in both human-animal and human-human interactions.

Peggy McCracken discusses a range of literary texts and images from medieval France, including romances in which animal skins appear in symbolic displays of power, fictional explorations of the wolf’s desire for human domestication, and tales of women and snakes converging in a representation of territorial claims and noble status. These works reveal that the qualities traditionally used to define sovereignty—lineage and gender among them—are in fact mobile and contingent. In medieval literary texts, as McCracken demonstrates, human dominion over animals is a disputed model for sovereign relations among people: it justifies exploitation even as it mandates protection and care, and it depends on reiterations of human-animal difference that paradoxically expose the tenuous nature of human exceptionalism.

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In medieval literature, when humans and animals meet—whether as friends or foes—issues of mastery and submission are often at stake. In the Skin of a Beast shows how the concept of sovereignty comes to the fore in such narratives, reflecting larger concerns about relations of authority and dominion at play in both human-animal and huma...

Peggy McCracken is the Domna C. Stanton Collegiate Professor of French, Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. Her many publications include The Curse of Eve, the Wound of the Hero: Blood, Gender, and Medieval Literature and The Romance of Adultery: Queenship and Sexual Transgression in Old French Li...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:May 9, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022645892X

ISBN - 13:9780226458922

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Table of Contents

List of Color Plates
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Wearing Animals: Skin, Survival, and Sovereignty
2. The Social Wolf: Domestication, Affect, and Social Contract
3. Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Sovereign: Skin, Heraldry, and the Beast
4. Snakes and Women: Recognition, Knowledge, and Sovereignty
5. Becoming-Human, Becoming-Sovereign: Gender, Genealogy, and the Wild Man
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index