What’s in a name?

Writing is not something that comes particularly easy to me (perfect choice of career I’m sure you’ll agree). Contemplative and a fusspot, I overanalyse every word and spend a lot of time deleting what has taken me a long time to write. However, I have decided to commit to writing a blog.

It should come as no surprise then that the first challenge I encountered after making this decision was what to name it. My aim is after all is to engage with people about my research on medieval space and identities and I wanted the name of the blog to convey that.

For reasons unknown, the first thing that popped into my head was ‘Friends on the Other Side’, a dark voodoo inspired song from the 2009 Disney film The Princess and the Frog. On the surface this film set in 1920s New Orleans about a hardworking, ambitious woman and a pampered prince being turned into frogs has little to do with the medieval world. And yet, as the song continued to play in my head, I began to make connections between the film and some of my primary research interests: transformation, transgresssive identities, magic, strong female characters, and monsters.

In addition, one thing that has struck me while writing my PhD thesis on queer time and space in medieval literature has been the frequency of liminal spaces as points of contact in the romances and lays that I have been working on. In Sir Orfeo for example, Heurodis is playing by an ‘orchard-side’ (66) when she falls in to an enchanted sleep and meets the Fairy King and in the Wife of Bath’s Tale, the knight encounters the loathly lady ‘under a forest syde’ (990). The ‘Otherside’ also evokes the concept of the Otherworld, an alternative space in the medieval imaginary that is populated by fairies.

And so here we have ‘The Medieval Otherside’, my very own liminal space where I hope to reflect on aspects of my research and draw connections between the medieval world and the now.


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