• Somatic Figurations of the Saracen in Sir Thomas Malory’s _Le Morte Darthur_

    Author(s):
    Wajih Ayed (see profile)
    Date:
    2003
    Subject(s):
    15th century
    Item Type:
    Conference proceeding
    Tag(s):
    15th Century, Medieval Studies, Race and Religion
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6S51C
    Abstract:
    The Saracen is the master trope of alterity in English literature of the Middle Ages. No matter how traumatising it can be, perception of otherness is a foundational prerequisite for identity formation. Edward Said credibly argues that human cultures “spin out a dialectic of self and other, the subject ‘I’ who is native, authentic, at home, and the object ‘it’ or ‘you,’ who is foreign, perhaps threatening, different, out there” (After the Last Sky, 40). There is no escape from alterity, but, as Said lucidly explains, representation of the Other is usually skewed because it “operates as representations usually do, for a purpose, according to a tendency, in a specific historical, intellectual, and even economic setting” (Orientalism 273). From this analytic stance, I contend that the religious expediencies of “racial purity” and “racial apartness” (Goldberg 72) in late Medieval British culture bracketed the normality of the Saracen body and made it a paradigm of deviancy against which the standardised morphology of the Christian was validated. Radical sequestration of racialised adequacy distanced the ethnically marked Saracens from the sphere of normalised humanity and represented them negatively to demarcate a fictive borderline between Christians and non-Christians. My purpose is to show that the alterity of the Saracen was not a fixed construct, but a fluid concept which was variably deployed or withdrawn depending on the failure or success of religious investment in the normalisation of the Other.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Conference proceeding    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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