The monster outside and within: Medieval literary reflections on ethical epistemology. From Beowulf to Marie de France, the Nibelungenlied, and Thüring von Ringoltingen's Melusine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While previous research has often reflected on the phenomenon of monsters in medieval literature, identifying them as existential threats, reflections of imagination, or as symbols of the monstrous and evil in an apotropaic sence, here I suggest to refine our investigations of monsters in light of their epistemological function. Examining literary examples from the early to the late Middle Ages (Beowulf to Melusine), we can recognize how much monsters indeed serve consistently for the development of the individual protagonists, for coping with otherness at large, which commonly rests within the heroes and heroines as part of their characters. External challenges thus prove to be reflections of internal problems and issues, and the struggle against the monsters constitutes a struggle against or with the self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-542
Number of pages22
JournalNeohelicon
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Fingerprint

foreignness
middle ages
epistemology
symbol
coping
France
threat
imagination
literature
Marie De France
Epistemology
Medieval Period
Nibelungenlied
Beowulf

Keywords

  • Beowulf
  • Character formation
  • Epistemology
  • Marie de France
  • Melusine
  • Monster lore/teratology
  • Nibelungenlied
  • Other
  • Self
  • Thüring von Ringoltingen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law

Cite this

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abstract = "While previous research has often reflected on the phenomenon of monsters in medieval literature, identifying them as existential threats, reflections of imagination, or as symbols of the monstrous and evil in an apotropaic sence, here I suggest to refine our investigations of monsters in light of their epistemological function. Examining literary examples from the early to the late Middle Ages (Beowulf to Melusine), we can recognize how much monsters indeed serve consistently for the development of the individual protagonists, for coping with otherness at large, which commonly rests within the heroes and heroines as part of their characters. External challenges thus prove to be reflections of internal problems and issues, and the struggle against the monsters constitutes a struggle against or with the self.",
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