Medieval Dog Whisperers: The Poetics of Rehabilitation
Focusing on the representation of canines in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, Sir Gowther, and Béroul’s Roman de Tristan, Fumo traces the reintegration of dysfunctional human selves through intimate communicative acts across species lines. The chapter situates the dogs in these texts within scholarly discourse on medieval animalities, supplemented by sociological evidence from modern correctional programs that incorporate canine training, medieval zoological traditions, and hunting lore. “Thinking dog” is pivotal to self-formation, effective communication, and the development of empathy in these medieval literary texts. Considered together, the three poems reveal how, within medieval frameworks of identity, encounters with the canine other potentially reform, and reformulate, the human.