Seminar: Medieval Blood

Enseignant(s): Dutton Elisabeth
Cursus: Master
Type d'enseignement: Séminaire
Langue(s) du cours: Anglais
Semestre(s): SA-2020

Blood in the medieval period was much more than simply red fluid in human veins. Defined diversely by theologians, medics, satirists and dramatists, it was matter, text, waste, cure, soul, God, and the means by which relationships were defined, sacramentalised and destroyed. Blood was also a controversial ingredient in the production of matter, from organic and medical to mechanical and alchemical. Debates about the nature and function of blood raised questions about the limits of identity, God’s will for his creatures, science’s encounter with the self, and the structure of families and communities, and its impact was felt in artistic constructions on stage, in print, and on canvas.  Discussions will cover a range of topics including blood and revenge, blood and gender, blood and genre, royal blood, blood and wounding, blood and race, blood on the stage, blood and witchcraft, blood and sacrifice.

5.09   medical blood: spontaneous bleeding

22.09   medical blood: women, menstruation and lactation

29.09   bleeding trees and bleeding heroes: Dream of the Rood

06.10   bloody knights: Malory’s Sir Perceval, Sir Urry

13.10   Jewish blood: the Croxton Play of the Sacrament

20.10   sacramental blood: the Croxton Play II

27.10   blood and the Grail: Chretien de Troyes

03.11   contemplative blood: Julian

10.11   affective blood: passion lyrics

17.11   bloody sheets, bloody cloths

24.11   blood and witches, blood and kings

01.12   stage blood

08.12   No class

15.12   Conclusions


  • Developing knowledge of Middle English language
  • Understanding of medieval scientific theories about blood
  • Appreciation of the medieval theological discussions about blood, particularly in relation to the Eucharist
  • Acquaintance with medieval medical and alchemical ideas
  • Knowledge of blood in medieval theatre, and associated ‘special effects’
  • Appreciation of blood and its signification in medieval romance