Title

Eschatology for Cannibals: A System of Aberrance in the Old English Andreas

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-22-2019

Department

English

School

Humanities

Abstract

This chapter investigates the literary representation of disability and other forms of bodily difference in the Old English heroic verse saint’s life Andreas. By highlighting often overlooked bodies that are disabled, monstrous, posthuman, damned, tortured, dead, and resurrected, I articulate “systems of aberrance” as a narrative pattern that utilizes bodily variation, both positively and negatively coded, to articulate the contours of Christian eschatological hope. Where scholars of modern disability have recognized the tendency of narratives to depend on disability for their efficacy, narrative systems of aberrance utilize disability among somatic diversity more broadly as a means of not only enforcing earthly norms, but also limning the path to salvation and the promised Christian afterlife. The system of aberrance in Andreas encompasses the blinded and drugged St Matthew, a community of cannibals, animalized captives, St Andrew’s tortured and hyper-abled body, and the drowned and resurrected Mermedonians that Andrew converts to Christianity. This system of aberrant bodies with all their various moral and social connotations functions in surprising harmony, modeling the narrative necessity of bodily variation in order to convey theological promises of salvation.

Publication Title

Monstrosity, Disability, and the Posthuman in the Medieval and Early Modern World

First Page

227

Last Page

248

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