Monsters and the Exotic in Medieval England

Asa Simon Mittman and Susan M. Kim

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199229123
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Monsters and the Exotic in Medieval England

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  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)


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This article discusses some of the textual sources relied upon by medieval English authors and artists in writing about monsters and the exotic. It suggests that the literature of the monstrous and exotic developed because foundational cultures of medieval England relied on such figures; because the conditions of literacy made such figures intensely relevant and because political and social conditions of the period warranted the representation both of a hybrid body of the state and of an externalized embodiment of what that state excluded. It argues that medieval depictions of monstrous creatures explored not only the ways in which these creatures were not men, but also the ways in which the strangeness of the monstrous was inextricably part of the English, the Christian, the human experience.

Keywords: English literature; monster; exotic; textual sources; medieval England; human experience; foundational cultures

Article.  14600 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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