Consuming Passions: The Uses of Cannibalism in Late Medieval by Merrall L. Price

By Merrall L. Price

Cannibalism is the breaking of the last word taboo. but in the course of the later center a long time and early years of the Renaissance, mythological, historic and modern debts of cannibalism turned rather well known. eating Passions synthesizes and analyses the main attention-grabbing of these past due medieval and early glossy responses to Eucharistic educating and debate that take place themselves within the trope of cannibalism. This trope looks in texts as quite a few as visions of the underworld, bills of the sacramental miracles, sermons, felony complaints and well known geographies. This booklet foregrounds the vexed position of the physique in either overdue medieval and early glossy religiosity, and the ways that the limits of the endangered physique in those narratives additionally replicate the conscientiously defended borders of the physique politic.

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Sample text

However, popular eucharistic piety also led to the development of unofficial uses for the body of Christ, rare before the thirteenth century,67 such as its application in agriculture, or use in love charms, so that, as I discuss in chapter three, the host played a significant role in continental witchcraft accusations. 68 It seems, then, in the blood libel, and specifically in its later manifestation as a form of Seder “communion,” there is a projection onto a vulnerable and culturally marked subgroup of Christian anxieties about the implications of their most fundamental and sacred ritual.

It is the maternal body which Bakhtin points to as illustrative of the transgressive grotesque, outgrowing its own 24 CONSUMING PASSIONS boundaries, open, proliferating, double-bodied. ”116 The cannibalistic woman is the Bakhtinian grotesque body par excellence. Interestingly, although Bakhtin identifies the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as marking a highly significant shift in ways of looking at the bounded body, and even though he deals with Protestant satire specifically targeting Catholic ritual, he does not link the grotesque eating body with the divine body of the eaten Christ.

36 Moreover, it is difficult to interpret the popularity among mystics of the specifically taboo habit of drinking at the wounds of the diseased as anything other than an opportunity to combine physical abasement with an externalization of the promise of salvation through consumption of the body. The fact that the unlikely habit of kissing or drinking from other people’s sores should need to be illegal suggests that the occurrence of the practice was not infrequent. 38 Certainly the connection between theophagy and anthropophagy seems to have been well enough established for such an eating of the human body to have been able to stand in for communion as a pathway to the divine and to salvation—a communion, moreover, that bypassed and even flouted male authority.

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