In this Book

University of Minnesota Press
summary
A monster lurks at the heart of medieval identity, and this book seeks him out. Reading a set of medieval texts in which giants and dismemberment figure prominently, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen brings a critical psychoanalytic perspective to bear on the question of identity formation-particularly masculine identity-in narrative representation. The giant emerges here as an intimate stranger, a monster who stands at the limits of selfhood. Arguing that in the romance tradition of late fourteenth-century England, identity is inscribed on sexed bodies only through the agency of a monster, Cohen looks at the giant as the masculine body writ large. In the giant he sees an uncanny figure, absolutely other and curiously familiar, that serves to define the boundaries of masculine embodiment. Philosophically compelling, the book is also a philologically rigorous inquiry into the phenomenon of giants and giant-slaying in various texts from the Anglo-Saxon period to late Middle English, including Beowulf, Chrétien de Troyes’s The Knight and the Lion, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, several works by Chaucer, Sir Gowther, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and more. A significant contribution to our understanding of medieval culture, Of Giants also provides surprising insights into questions about the psychosocial work of representation in its key location for the individual: the construction of gender and the social formation of the boundaries of gender identification. It will engage students of the Middle Ages as well as those interested in discourses of the body, social identity, and the grotesque. ISBN 0-8166-3216-2 Cloth £00.00 $47.95xx ISBN 0-8166-3217-0 Paper £00.00 $18.95x 240 Pages 5 black-and-white photos 5 7/8 x 9 May Medieval Cultures Series, volume 17 Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction: The Intimate Stranger
  2. pp. xi-xx
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  1. 1. The Ruins of Identity
  2. pp. 1-28
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  1. 2. Monstrous Origin: Body, Nation, Family
  2. pp. 29-61
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  1. 3. The Body in Pieces: Identity and the Monstrous in Romance
  2. pp. 62-95
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  1. 4. The Giant of Self-Figuration: Diminishing Masculinity in Chaucer's "Tale of Sir Thopas"
  2. pp. 96-118
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  1. 5. The Body Hybrid: Giants, Dog-Men, and Becoming Inhuman
  2. pp. 119-141
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  1. 6. Exorbitance
  2. pp. 142-184
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  1. Afterword: Transhistoricity
  2. pp. 185-186
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 187-210
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 211-230
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 231-235
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  1. Other Works in the Series, About the Author
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