By the skin of its teeth: Walrus ivory, the artisan, and other bodies
This feminist ecocritical study of an eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon walrus ivory pyx uncovers the object as a site where human and nonhuman, divine and earthly, feminine and masculine, and material and represented bodies cohabit and mingle. Using the work of feminists Karen Barad, Nancy Tuana, and Stacy Alaimo, the essay demonstrates how the various entities that make up the object evade clear categorization, blurring binaries. The pyx and the chalice depicted on its side function as containers for the divine body of Christ and as representations of the Virgin’s idealized womb. Complicating neat narratives, the essay presents the pyx as a site of interaction for multitudinous bodies.
I am grateful to Emogene Schilling Cataldo, Olivia Clemens, Claire Dillon, and Adam Harris Levine for their attentive feedback on earlier versions of this paper.
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