A Singular and Plural Beast

A Singular and Plural Beast

Lecture by Jamie Kreiner

Given at the New York University Medieval and Renaissance Center on February 8, 2018

In the early Middle Ages, the pig was a caricature for greed, dirt, and disorder (and not much has changed). And in other ways, too, Europeans in this period thought of this animal in the singular — as a coherent, uniform, and legible species. On the other hand, they knew that pigs very much existed in the plural, not only because there were herds of them almost everywhere, but also because these were creatures whose fleshy specificity mattered: as groups and even as individuals they were capable of responding to and altering their environments, including the human societies that only partially constrained them. This talk explores that contrapuntal history between “the pig” and “pigs” in early medieval Europe.

Jamie Kreiner is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia. She has written the article “Pigs in the Flesh and Fisc: An Early Medieval Ecology” which was published in Past and Present. Click here to access it.

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