Monday, March 21, 2011

Medieval Stones and Morality

Can contemporary object-ontology breathe new perspectives of morality into medieval texts? Existing before the glass wall between man and nature (before Kant’s binary inside/outside, before the dominion of epistemology reified that binary), non-human objects existed in the same ontological plane as humans. Thus objects become a site for the question of morality. How do we read/respond to the threatening gestures of “rokkes black,” to Merlin’s preternatural sensitivity to the disruptive power of stones hiding dragons, or to scientific/magical properties of precious stones defined by lapidaries and depicted in Breton Lais and the Travels of Sir John Mandeville?


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