Metamorphosis and identity
The four studies in this book center on the Western obsession with the nature of personal identity. Focusing on the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but with an eye toward antiquity and the present, Caroline Walker Bynum explores the themes of metamorphosis and hybridity in genres ranging from poetry, folktales, and miracle collections to scholastic theology, devotional treatises, and works of natural philosophy. She argues that the obsession with boundary-crossing and otherness was an effort to delineate nature's regularities and to establish a strong sense of personal identity, extending even beyond the grave. She examines historical figures such as Marie de France, Gerald of Wales, Bernard Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante, as well as modern fabulists such as Angela Carter, as examples of solutions to the perennial question of how the individual can both change and remain constant. Addressing the fundamental question for historians—that of change—Bynum also explores the nature of history writing itself.
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Change and the Twelfth Century
Hybrid and Metamorphosis
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admiratio animal Aquinas argued Aristotle Arnulf asserts Augustine beast Bernard of Clairvaux Bernard's sense Bisclavret body Bynum Cambridge Carter Chapter Christ Cistercian complex concept culture Dante demons diligendo Deo discussion dist entity essays Eucharist example Figure flesh Gerald of Wales Gervais of Tilbury Harf-Lancner Hence Holy Feast human hybrid identity images literature Lycaon Marie de France Marie's marvel Medieval meta metamor metamorphosis metempsychosis Middle Ages miracles mixtio mixture monsters Moreover morphosis mutatio natural Nonetheless ontological Opera Ovid Ovid's paradox Paris perdures Peter Peter Lombard Peter the Venerable philosophical radical recent Renaissance replacement-change resurrection rhetoric role saints scholars sermon shape shape-shifting siecle Song of Songs soul species spiritual Studies suggests Summa tend texts theologians Theology things thirteenth century tion tradition trans transformation twelfth twelfth-century two-ness understanding unitas University Press Walter Map werewolf werewolf stories William William of Newburgh wolf wonder York