Matthew Vanderpoel, History of Christianity in the Divinity School, University of Chicago 

“Domesticated Necromancy: ‘Renart Magicien’ and the Non-Humanity of Language”

Co-sponsored with the Medieval Studies workshop

In “Renart the Sorcerer,” an early-thirteenth-century branch of the sprawling Reynard cycle, the titular fox amplifies his usual mischief-making by traveling to Toledo to study necromancy. This paper presents a reading of this understudied text by focusing on Reynard’s apprenticeship in black magic—a process that includes both his formal study of magical formulae and his being domesticated as a house animal. By pairing these activities, the author charges a set of comparisons between the occult rules of enchantment and the strictures of human society. The paper concludes by analyzing this work as a part of larger debates over language and poetry in the high Middle Ages.

Please email Katharine Mershon ( for a copy of the paper.

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance to attend should contact Katharine Mershon (