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A context for the sexualization of monsters in The Wonders of the East

  • Christopher Monk (a1)

The belief that monsters had a human genealogy originating at a point of transgressive sexual behaviour is something attested to in early medieval texts that either circulated or were written in Anglo-Saxon England. The Hiberno-Latin Reference Bible, a widely known text of the period, and the Old English poem Genesis A both suggest that the sexual deviancy of the progenitors of monsters is perceivable as reiterated stigmata on the monstrous bodies of their progeny. It is within this context of theological exegesis and poetic imagination that the Anglo-Saxon drawings of monsters in The Wonders of the East were produced. What one sees in the depiction of monsters therein is a performance of sexual monstrosity that links monsters to their human forbears; but also, by means of the illustrated interaction of monster and human, the monster is brought perilously close to the here-and-now of the Anglo-Saxon reader-viewer's imagined world.

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Anglo-Saxon England
  • ISSN: 0263-6751
  • EISSN: 1474-0532
  • URL: /core/journals/anglo-saxon-england
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