"Cutting and Pasting in Bestiary MS Bodley 764"

Susan Crane, Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University


Susan Crane (Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University) will discuss a work in progress. Free box lunches will be available to those who RSVP by Friday 24 February. To RSVP, and to request a copy of the paper, please email Amy Reynolds <amy.e.reynolds@wustl.edu>.


England’s Second-Family Bestiaries, the most numerous and handsomely produced of the surviving bestiary manuscripts, are well-known for chopping, rearranging, and revising their diverse source texts. Scholars have called this compositional method “arbitrary,” “heedless,” and worse; Crane would like to take it more seriously, as an aesthetic of bricolage. Her examples from the beautifully illustrated Oxford MS Bodley 764 will trace the compositional principles of this bricolage, focusing on a few entries including Cat and Hawk. The Bestiary’s strategies of cutting and pasting are both deconstructive and reconstructive: they take down medieval theology’s hierarchies of body and spirit, animal and human, in order to build a more complex, hybrid ontology of creaturely life.

Event sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, the departments of Romance Languages and Literatures, English, and History, and the program in Religious Studies