The Power of Objects [Th Oct 30]

On page 175, Bynum states that matter, while being “locatable, divisible, temporal, changeable”, can be, in the medieval mind, redeemed by God so that “corruptible matter must be-impossibly, inconceivably, paradoxically-capable of incorruption”. How does this idea fit in with some of our earlier views on materiality, such as hybridity? What is your sense of how Bynum’s evidence in the chapter supports or complicates our ideas of the power of objects?

St. Margaret [T 10/28]

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?

Vibrant Matter & Cohen (Th Sept 4)

In Bennett’s first chapter, she spends a great deal of time discussing Adorno’s concept of nonidentity. Nonidentity is more of an absence in terms of human understanding, the “discomfiting sense of the inadequacy of representation…no matter how refined or analytically precise one’s concepts become” (14). Pair this with Cohen’s description of OOO as acknowledging the autonomy of objects, in that “no two objects can really touch each other” wholly. In what ways are these related concepts problematic in terms of an anthropocentric worldview? Does the representation of objects in text help to bridge this gap or does it create yet another degree of removal?

Le Fresne/Lay le Freine (T Sept 2)

In both Marie de France’s Le Fresne and the middle English Lay le Freine, a network of similar actants performs in a similar, though not identical, way. The objects left with the abandoned girl play a pivotal role. In a less obvious way, so does the tree that she’s left in. How might these non-human actants affect the narrative in a way that is unavailable to their human counterparts? Do these objects have an advantage over a human actant in the narrative structure?