My essay, “Debunking Traditional Chivalric Acts in the Medieval Court’s of Bisclavret and The Greene Knight”, in response to prompt A will use Brown’s “Thing Theory” along with some of Jane Bennett’s ideas about Thing-power and assemblages found in the first two chapters of Vibrant Matter to conclude what the untraditional examples of a challenge, mercy, shame, and violence found in Bisclavret and The Greene Knight say about the act itself and the ones performing it. I intend to investigate each act separately and make individual conclusions about the thingness of each and how it reflects on the protagonist. Both lais are medieval texts whose knightly protagonists must overcome the traditional knightly tests of allegiance to the king, keeping one’s word, mercy, and honor. In both Bisclavret and The Greene Knight, the knights either act in a way that is untraditional in the courtly practice of knighthood. I intend use two of Bill Brown’s key ideas in his theory to challenge the conventional modes of chivalry addressed in many of the critical literary texts I read. Continue reading
I intend on completing option C for my paper. The text that I will be using is Marie de France’s Bisclavret. I will be reading it with a feminist approach, and then with an object-oriented approach. From the feminist approach I will further consider aspects of the lai like the motives for the wife’s betrayal of Bisclavret, her representation as the sole female in the lai, the male-dominated society in Bisclavret, and Bisclavret’s brutal attack of the wife at the end of the lai. I expect this to be a typical feminist reading of Bisclavret.
However, through the work I have been doing with the annotated bibliography, I find the feminist approach inadequate. That is because the standard male versus female dichotomy is not all that is present in Bisclavret. Instead, a male versus female versus werewolf division is in the works—and this is when one is considering the human only. A feminist approach attempts to keep Bisclavret in the realm of the human, but what is human? Is Bisclavret human? Is he werewolf? Or is he simply Bisclavret with all that it entails?
Those questions call in the object-oriented approach. From the object-oriented approach I anticipate exploring questions like “Is being human a prerequisite for being a knight?” or “Is being werewolf being human? What does it mean to be ‘human?” To better consider these questions I will be utilizing sources that discuss monsters and their purpose in the human realm, critical animal studies, and object-oriented studies. I would like to explicate the idea that the werewolf experience is unique to Bisclavret, that he is not the universal werewolf, and that a strictly anthropocentric feminist reading of the lai is too limiting.