Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape


Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape

Publication Date



Strange Beauty brings the developing discipline of environmental literary criticism to bear on narratives of nature and the Otherworld from early cultures around the Irish Sea. Reflecting on an Otherworld associated with human experience, Siewers uses texts such as the Ulster Cycle and the Mabinogi to relate views of nature, symbolism and language. This book uncovers early syntheses of Christian and indigenous Insular cultures which express an integration of the spiritual and physical landscapes that are marginalized in later medieval thought. Strange Beauty opens a window on distinctive alternative views of the relation of culture to nature still relevant today.




Ecocriticism, Medieval Studies, Celtic Studies, Eriugena, Christianity and Nature, Mabinogi, Ulster Cycle


Celtic Studies | Medieval Studies | Religion


Palgrave Macmillan


Basingstoke, United Kingdom




"Strange Beauty is an outstanding addition to medieval cultural studies. The volume combines philological rigor, meticulous research, an engaging writing style, a fascinating set of questions, and a theory-savvy, innovative line of research. Siewers' book will put environmental approaches to medieval literature and culture on the critical agenda. The geographic and temporal dynamism that it allows its texts is inspirational. Well-chosen as well is the emphasis upon the Otherworld, the perfect imagined geography through which to think the project's cluster of questions.Strange Beauty is, in a word, brilliant." - Jeffrey J. Cohen, Professor and Chair of English, and Director, Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, George Washington University

"I learned a great deal from Siewers' analysis of the phenomenology and ideology of place in Beowulf and in medieval Celtic environmental imagination. Strange Beauty is a subtle and erudite book." - Lawrence Buell, Department of English, Harvard University and author of The Environmental Imagination and The Future of Environmental Criticism

"Siewers examines the inner and outer worlds of medieval Ireland and Britain with inspired sensitivity, wide-ranging learning, and a penetrating attention to detail. His ecocritical perspective and his deep engagement with the insights of ascetic spirituality, enable him to interrogate the material in new and exciting ways. The result is a book rich in ideas, which finds in the ancient texts a vision, and a wisdom, which can speak to the predicaments of our own time." - John Carey, Department of Early and Medieval Irish, National University of Ireland, Cork


Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape