Next Meeting: 13th January

Happy New Year to all humans, nonhumans and anything beyond, in-between, or in defiance of these categories!

Our first meeting for 2014 will take place on Monday, January 13th at 6:30pm – 8pm at King’s College London, Strand campus, room S2.39. As per usual, all are welcome, and snacks / drinks will be provided!

This meeting will focus on a group presentation given by PhD students, post-doctorates and lecturers who research the early medieval period.

Please note that there are two accompanying handouts to this presentation: a selection of images taken from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11, and two very short poems: an Old English charm against a swarm of bees, and an Old English riddle (as well as their modern English translations). To receive these handouts in advance of the meeting, please email us at: being.non.human AT

Francesca Allfrey, Janel Fontaine, Rebecca Hardie, Carl Kears, Dr Clare Lees, Dr James Paz, Hana Videen, Victoria Walker (group presentation comprising PhD students and researchers, King’s College London) – ‘A Gathering of the Non/Human in the Anglo-Saxon World’
We are proposing a different sort of session for the ‘Being Non/Human’ discussion group. All of us work in different areas of Anglo-Saxon literature and history, and we would like to present ‘snapshots’ of our unique interests in the context of ‘Being Non/Human’. Each participant would present a three-minute sound-bite about a specific example of the ‘non/human’ in Anglo-Saxon culture. This would take approximately 30 minutes. Afterwards, we will invite questions/discussion about our snapshots, and we will also encourage the group members to think about the different questions we raise in the context of their own research. A few potential ‘snapshots’ (we will not necessarily discuss all of these, but they give an idea of the topics to be discussed):

  • De/humanising: Cyrus and Babylon in the Old English Orosius
  • Traces of the Wolfman: the vestiges of ‘berserkers’ (Germanic superhuman shape-shifters) in Anglo-Saxon England and contemporary pop culture
  • How is the non-human (food and dung) a productive way of thinking through what is integral to the human (soul and salvation)?
  • How does Christian doctrine ‘humanise’ the unfree in the context of Anglo-Saxon slavery?
  • How much information do we need to make a person in the past fully human?
  • In the Junius MS’s Genesis poems, is Adam human, pre-human or post-human?
  • What does it mean to technologically enhance the human body, transforming it into something superhuman?
  • How does voice mediate human and nonhuman agency in Old English literature? Where and with whom does the power really lie?
  • How does the natural world become more ‘human’ than humans on Doomsday?
  • How does the tempter shape-shift in the illustrations of the Junius MS? How are Eve’s ‘weak’ mind and Adam’s ‘strong’ mind represented?

So, superhuman shape-shifters, food and dung, the soul, nonhuman agency, and a natural world potentially more human than human beings themselves. Something for everyone, then. Hope you can make it!


About beingnonhuman

Being Non/Human is an interdisciplinary discussion group aimed at postgraduates and early career researchers. The group was set up and is run by Sophia Wilson and Lydia Zeldenrust. Our group is funded by the English departments of King’s College London and Queen Mary, University of London. View all posts by beingnonhuman

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