Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-8-2023


Marie de France’s werewolf lai, Bisclavret, was met with immediate and long-lasting fascination, replication, and criticism. As part of what Caroline Walker Bynum calls “the werewolf renaissance,” the story breaks with traditional understandings of werewolves: Bisclavret is not the villain of the story but presents instead as a sympathetic character, victimized by his wife’s collaboration with another man who steals his clothes and prevents him from regaining his human form.

Modern scholarship generally falls within two opposite camps: those for whom the wife is disloyal to her husband; and those for whom Marie herself was disloyal to her gender. However, when Marie de France’s poetics are examined, Bisclavret stands out for its ambiguities and gaps. In examining Bisclavret’s peculiarities, I propose that there is more to the narrative than what appears on the page. When Marie de France’s social and gender positions are taken into consideration, a new understanding of Bisclavret can be gleaned.


Marie de France, medieval literature, Bisclavret, gender, werewolf renaissance

Document Type




Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Carmen Nocentelli

Second Committee Member

Pim Higginson

Third Committee Member

Stephen Bishop

Fourth Committee Member

Timothy Graham