University of Notre Dame
Browse

File(s) under embargo

2

year(s)

6

month(s)

15

day(s)

until file(s) become available

Reading Animals in Medieval Fable

thesis
posted on 2022-07-07, 00:00 authored by Emily J. Mahan

This dissertation examines medieval fable collections from a critical animal studies perspective. Discussion is focused on relationships between humans and nonhuman animals, as portrayed in works written and circulated in Britain during the Middle Ages, particularly: Avianus’s fables; the elegiac Romulus; Alexander Neckam’s Novus Aesopus; Odo of Cheriton’s Parabolae; the Fables ascribed to “Marie de France”; the Morall Fabillis of Robert Henryson; and William Caxton’s Aesop. The dissertation offers close textual analyses of selected fables from these collections, some of which do not otherwise exist in modern English translation. Chapters are organized according to several themes: cohabitation between wild animals and humans; human domination of “working animals” such as dogs and donkeys; and the exploitation of domesticated animals such as sheep and birds for food and other resources. The concluding chapter analyzes two fables in which the species of characters changes drastically across versions, illustrating that animal characters’ affordances shape the stories in which they appear, and that animal voices, in the counterfactual context of fable, may be invoked easily but heeded with difficulty. This dissertation argues that fables are highly heterogeneous and not reduceable to one message. Nevertheless, fables, in portraying nonhuman perspectives and voices, offer an alternative and sometimes oppositional discourse, imperfectly recuperated into dominant discourses about nonhuman animals in the Middle Ages.

History

Date Modified

2022-07-20

Defense Date

2022-06-28

CIP Code

  • 30.1301

Research Director(s)

Tim William Machan

Committee Members

W. Martin Bloomer Amy Mulligan Karl Steel

Degree

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Level

  • Doctoral Dissertation

Language

  • Latin
  • Old French
  • Old Scotts
  • English

Alternate Identifier

1336606843

Library Record

6259112

OCLC Number

1336606843

Program Name

  • Medieval Studies

Usage metrics

    Dissertations

    Categories

    No categories selected

    Exports

    RefWorks
    BibTeX
    Ref. manager
    Endnote
    DataCite
    NLM
    DC