The brilliant PHD students at King’s are organising a series of seminars on Being Non/Human, and I’m very excited (although feeling like a bit of an impostor) to be part of a group of medievalists presenting a group seminar in January 2014. The idea is that each of us (there are 8 of us) talk very briefly on a non/human medieval interest, before opening up to the floor to see where questions take us.
I’ve just about gotten over the stress of dissertation writing, so have began to think some more about what my contribution to the discussion will be.
So far, I’m planning to focus on the Junius MS, and reading the illustrations and text together to explore how the artist/writer understood the physical form of the tempter and the act of seeing during the temptation. The tempter is quite the shape shifter in the manuscript illustrations, and he appears differently depending on who else is in the frame. The pictorial narrative is also further ahead than the text, and appears against some interesting points in the poem, a feature which I explored a little as part of my MA course. I would like to discuss how Eve’s ‘weak mind’ / Adam’s ‘strong’ mind is presented across text and image, and how the reader/viewer is invited to view the non human form of the tempter. I’d also like to explore how the reader/viewer is invited to view the non human too: is there a slippage between how the text and images invite us to view the temptation, and is this caused by differences in our place in time, or the state of having sinned affecting how we, as post fall humans, can comprehend a pre-fall world?
However, even re reading the above paragraph I think I might focus on just one side of my ideas – either the tempter, OR the language/images of Adam and Eve. There’s a lot to say about both…