In the story of St. Margaret’s martyrdom, there are some really vivid depictions of violence. Most of this violence is directed at Margaret by Olybryus and enacted by others (his men, a pair of dragons). What do you think is the purpose of these vivid descriptions? Do you think that violence becomes a kind of object in the narrative? In what way might violence affect the traditional form of a saint’s life?
What is your sense of how materiality–of various sorts–serves the purposes of a saint’s life, in this case?
If, based on Saint Eustace alone, you were required to develop a description of the genre of the saint’s life, what features would you include? Given your encounter with romance, the other long narrative form popular in the Middle Ages, what seems to distinguish the saint’s life? And what does it share with the romance/Breton lai?
Saint Eustace‘s journey begins very similarly to that of Guigemar, featuring the hero meeting a peculiar, talking white stag while off hunting. How are these two interactions compared when pitting our new understanding of holy matter (as seen in Saint Eustace) against the thing powered, object focused ecology we used to analyze Guigemar?
Bynum, while obviously drawing from earlier philosophers and theorists we’ve studied (such as Latour), makes sure to draw a divide between her arguments and that of total ‘thing power’. Based on our early readings of her theories, how does Christian Materiality differ from the thing power found within Vibrant Materialism and Latour’s theories? What do you think are, or will be, the defining characteristics separating the two?
Choose a sentence or two from Bynum’s introduction that you found most provocative, intriguing, confusing, disturbing, or in some way potentially useful for us to consider specifically in our discussion in class Tuesday. Quote the material in your post, and let us know what your response to it is, and why.
How do you think that objects with magical transformative qualities would be considered, such as the ring which turns Melion into a wolf? Could this ring be considered a meditative object because of its ability to shift the translation and trajectory of Melion character and form? Could this ring be compared to Cleges and his “ten blows” — an actant which brings about justice and truth? How so?
Compare and contrast Bisclavret and “Biclarel” in how both werewolves transform.
“Post-Enlightenment common sense encourages us to view things as inert, mute witnesses to the life of active agents, to train our attention on the human subjects who look at, move around, and organize nonhuman things. Premodern things have no such reticence and premodern subjects are often shown to be at the mercy of ‘their’ things. “
How would you consider the relationships between the actants in the assemblages in “The Franklin’s Tale” if you were to read the tale from a Post-Enlightenment perspective? How would you consider these relationships from the perspective of Robertson (and her view on Pre-Modern objects)? How would these two readings differ?
The cloth-become-robe acts as a central powerful object in Emaré; in Eliduc, love itself seems to have a similar central position of agency. Choose one of these and explain your sense of how its agency operates. (You might want to consider along the way whether or not it’s an agency similar to that Julian Yates ascribed to the oranges.)