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Dogging Cornwall’s 'secret freaks': Béroul on the limits of European orthodoxy

Simpson, J. (2013) Dogging Cornwall’s 'secret freaks': Béroul on the limits of European orthodoxy. In: Roach, A. and Simpson, J. (eds.) Heresy and the Making of European Culture: Medieval and Modern Perspectives. Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey, UK, pp. 207-235. ISBN 9781472411815

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Abstract

This piece argues that Béroul's version of the Tristan tale can be read as offering a discreetly veiled view of the sexual, ritual and ontological chaos associated with visions of the Celtic West such as figure in Gerald of Wales' History and Topography of Ireland as well as with accounts of heretical orgies found in continental sources such as Caesarius of Heisterbach. Drawing parallels between the poem’s fictional Cornwall and Gerald’s often hyperbolically lurid accounts of the perversions and peculiarities of Ireland, both religious and sexual, this essay targets the cultural voyeurism in which the world of King Mark appears to veil its kinship with the deviance and hybridity Gerald presents as characteristic of religious life across the Irish Sea. This relation can perhaps helpfully be characterised as a form of cultural 'dogging', the sociology of which is one of the methodological focuses of this paper and which mirrors Béroul's recurring focus on voyeuristic scenarios. Evidently, however, the disavowed investments underlying orthodoxy's voyeuristic fascination with what Gerald describes as the'secret freaks' nature spawns in Ireland also reflect a desire to render unintelligible the logics of othered practices. What gives Béroul’s text an edginess discernible even today is the clear implication that such ‘flawed’ societies operated on their own cultural terms and according to thei

Item Type:Book Section (Other)
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Simpson, Dr James and Roach, Dr Andrew
Authors: Simpson, J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Publisher:Ashgate

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