Jeffery Cohen’s visit to our class gave me a real feel for the extent to which the sort of object oriented criticism we are doing in our class is starting to take hold and that makes me feel like the things we are doing, while experimental, aren’t being done in a vacuum, which is what it feels like sometimes. He was able to ground the criticism in a real, practical context that seems to be filled with possibility for application in many sorts of fields. While I had gotten a bit of an idea for what the implications of a less anthropocentric world could be mean for political policies through Jane Bennett, hearing Mr. Cohen, a flesh and blood scholar who seems to be very interested and passionate about this field of though, talk about the lays we have been talking about was definitely something I needed to really want to try and dig deeper into these texts to try and think about them in new ways. He has a ways of relating medieval texts back to the modern world and giving the works a strong bond to the world we live in today. Looking at the past helps us better understand how we can think about the present.
Specifically the way that he talked us through Bisclavret gave me a really firm handle on how the medievalist thinks about the past in a relation to the present and not just with an eye for trying to read a text in the way a medieval reader might have. Bisclavret seems to have a kind of reverence for nature that is very much in line with the modern ecological movements, but also works as a kind of classic werewolf story that questions the hidden passions inside of a man and the possible value that can come from being true to these values. Just as a knight must adhere to strict codes of fealty, so too does Bisclavret through the story show his loyalty to the king by not only acting as a knight, but also stewarding the violence that comes with being a werewolf into an outlet that is appropriate to it, in this case vengeance, instead of attacking and killing the innocent.