• In The Skin Of A Beast

In The Skin Of A Beast

In The Skin Of A Beast

( from 245 reviews )
  • Author
    Peggy Mccracken
  • Publisher
    University Of Chicago Press
  • Publication date
    17 May 2017

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Book Detail

  • Book Title

    In The Skin Of A Beast

  • Author

    Peggy Mccracken

  • Date Published

    17 May 2017

  • Publisher

    University Of Chicago Press

  • Pages

    240 pages

  • ISBN

    9780226459080

Book Description

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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