The non-human agency of a thing in Orendel or The Grey Robe

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An emerging research consensus on Orendel or the Grey Robe has begun to consider the seamless tunic of Christ to be of central importance for this text, and to suggest that the narrative should be considered a thing biography of this robe rather than as a bridal quest epic focusing on a human protagonist. This article furthers this interpretation by analyzing the way in which the narrative suggests that the robe as a protagonist has a kind of agency that is not that of a pseudo-human subject, but of an inanimate thing: through giving it the role of a character in the narrative, putting it in a grammatically and semantically active position, and blurring the distinction between robe and wearer. This non-anthropocentric notion of agency can refine contemporary new materialist understandings of the agency of things.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2021q003
Number of pages14
JournalMEMO: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture Online
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


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