In Part one, Section 1, the explaining the passage section of the final, I think it could be useful for us to respond to a passage from Bynum’s chapter. In this chapter, Bynum explains and dissects the many different wolf-human and metamorphosis stories that have existed throughout history. She displays the many differences between Ovid’s Lycaon and Marie’s Bisclavret towards the middle of the chapter. I found the following passage very thought-provoking and I think it lends itself very well to this section of the final.
“Whereas Ovid’s wolf carries traces of a former self on his skin, there is in Marie a suggestion of over and under, inner and outer, of a person under the shaggy wolf…” (Bynum 172).
(*In my opinion, there is a possibility that one might want to include the sentence that follows the above passage, simply for clarification, but I did not choose to include it here.)
I would also like a question focusing on Bynum’s chapter ‘Shape and Story’. However, I’d prefer it to be focused on her passage about identity. Bynum gives three distinct terms for identity in the very start of the chapter: “identity is that which makes me particularly, distinctively, even uniquely me” , an “identity position”, and “spatiotemporal continuity” (163). I think a good question would involve looking at these issues of identity in terms of ‘Bisclavret’ and ‘William of Palerne’ as well as the modern texts of The Surrogates and maybe even Iron Man (perhaps in analyzing whether he is Iron Man or Tony Stark).
I have become interested in the queer theory that Akbari discusses in her book review. As she notes in reference to Giffney and Hird’s Queering the Non/Human, their overarching topic is “a problematization – a ‘queering’ – of the human, understood both affirmatively (Human) and through negation (Non/Human)” (Akbari, 276). Through this definition, which does not seem to explicitly deal with hetero/homo-sexualities, I hope to draw specific examples of how the queer-ness (or non-assimilationist) of Marie de France’s Bisclavret and the Cylons in Battlestar Gallactica is merely a social construct.
Although the werewolf of Bisclavret was at one point a human, while he dwells in the forest without clothes he is of another form and cannot be physically seen as human. It takes his compassion and his human-like characteristics for him to be seen as the human he once was. Although not the same, the cylons have a similar predicament. They were at one point, when the humans had last seen them, anti-human (large robots that performed basic tasks). When they returned to their planet of creation, they were nearly indistinguishable, but since there are only a few different models, their cylon-ness is distinguishable. This factor of distinction is blurred when emotions are at play. At moments like this even the most racist (in an anti-cylon way) humans seem to connect with these non-humans.
These examples allow for us to see both sides of the problematization of the human that Giffney and Hird discuss; Bisclavret is the negation of a human by appearing as a beast, and the cylons affirm the appearance of a human although they are not technically a part of the human race.
I will also be looking to texts such as Bergwinkles’s Queer Theory and the Middle Ages, Murphy’s Considering Different Ways: In(ter)secting Martriachal Utopias and Joy and Neufeld’s A Confession of Faith: Notes toward New Humanism.
For my paper, I am going to compare two medieval werewolf texts, Bisclavret and Gerald of Wales’ Werewolf story, to the modern text of Harry Potter. The Medieval texts show a true distinction between the werewolf and the man, with the outside appearance having absolutely no bearing on the inner soul. Harry Potter, likewise, shows a good hearted man, Remus Lupin, who is subjected to a transformation that he has no control over. Though, unlike the werewolves in the medieval texts, Lupin completely loses control of his actions and loses all ability to communicate with humans.
I will be putting Marie de France’s Bisclavret into conversation with Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, in order to answer the third question, which centres around chronohybridity. These texts interact with each other on many levels, lending credibility to the idea that literary works are always relevant to humans and other works, no matter their temporal origin. The main reason why I have chosen these particular tales is that they are both concerned with the process of ‘othering’ someone to remove them from accepted society. This phenomenon is one which has persisted throughout human history, therefore allowing less importance to be put on the texts’ cultural context.
As we have been moving away from the current view of the posthuman and move into the medieval view of the human, I have been intrigued about the possibilities about the blend between human and animal.
The Romance of William of Palerne is really my first encounter with Medieval English and needless to say it is like another language to me. Despite the difficulty of the dialect, I am incredibly interested in the somewhat recurring themes of the Medieval texts we have read so far. Continue reading