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Sample Annotated Bibliographical Entries:

Medieval Culture and Medieval Monsters


This webpage contains some sample annotated bibliographical entries. In this particular case, I have presumed my audience is an undergraduate student looking for materials on "Medieval Beasts and Bestiaries," but I've also included some general medieval research tools and a section on medieval art and heraldry to help flesh out the bibliography. The idea behind an annotated bibliography is to give other researchers some tips and useful warnings so they can quickly find appropriate and useful materials, or else avoid inappropriate and unuseful sources. The exact format is up to you. I suggest picking something akin to MLA format or APA format and sticking to it consistently.

If you wish to see the work past students have done in other classes, you can also click here for a list of medieval monsters the English class studied in English 199--Writings About Medieval Monsters. On that long list of mythological beasts, you will find links to several short annotated bibliographies created by students that term. Alternatively, click here to go to "What is an Annotated Bibliography?" 

(General Medieval Research)

Secondary Sources:

Crosby, Everett Uberto. Medieval Studies: A Bibliographical Guide. Ed. Crosby et al. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 427. NY: Garland P, 1983.

A good starting spot. Compendious. 1131 pages. Can't be checked out of Knight Library, so get ready to xerox.

Dahmus, Joseph. Henry. Dictionary of Medieval Civilization. NY: Macmillan, 1984.

Dahmus is a so-so work. Strayer is more comprehensive; see below. Dahmus is best used for quick references in a pinch. He does include entries all nearly every aspect of medieval civilization--history, politics, religion, and beliefs.

International Medieval Bibliography on CD-ROM. (from Leeds, England)

Goes up to 1996. Available on exactly one computer in Knight Library. Ask a librarian for assistance using it, because it is not user-friendly on the first try. Many more medieval resources than you will find doing an online search of the electronic MLA Bibliography.

Lapidge, Michael, ed, et al. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.

Alphabetical, scholarly, and fairly compendioius. The list of contributors and editors is a veritable "who's who" of Anglo-Saxon scholarship.

Loomis, R. S. Introduction to Medieval Literature, chiefly in England, Reading List and Bibliography. NY: Columbia UP, 1939.

Dated, but does serve as a good overview, particularly of English works.Useless for materials that aren't insular in origin.

Strayer, J. R., et al. Dictionary of the Middle Ages. NY: Scribner 12 vols plus Index. 1982-89.

Very useful. One of the few good reference tools of this size in English.

Tubach, Frederic C. Index Exemplorum: A Handbook of Medieval Religious Tales. Helsinki: 1969.

Tales arranged in alphabetical order by motif. Very useful for checking out folktales similar to a piece of medieval literature. Often worth looking at merely for the zany entries. My personal favorites include the entries on demon-possessed mice.

Medieval Art

secondary sources:

Baschet, J. J-C., M Pastoreau, and J.-C. Schmitt, eds. Lire les images médievales.

[Not Yet Examined]. Forthcoming, but not yet available in English. The title, "Reading Medieval Images" sounds promising.

Backes, Magnus and Regine Dolling. The Art of the Dark Ages. Trans. Francisca Garvie. NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1969.

Focuses on German and North Italian art up to eleventh century. Good introduction discussing transition from Roman civilization to medieval, though a bit dated. Useful chart in back of book divides Roman art into Pre-Carolingian, Carolingian, and Ottonian art. Lots of jewelry, helmets, and other sorts of art. Little emphasis on medieval monsters, but does illustrate how art looked before the Gothic emergence. Available at Eugene Public Library.

Bodleian Library Image Catalog. http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/medieval

Great resource. Here, you will find digitized thousands of manuscript images from the Bodleian Library in England.

Braswell, Laurel Nichols. Western Manuscripts from Classical Antiquity to the Renaissance: A Handbook. NY: 1981.

For some strange reason, listed in Knight Library Catalog under the author, "Laurel Means." See section in particular on "Illumination."

Brieger, Peter. English Art: 1216-1307. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1957.

[Not Yet Examined]

Duby, Georges. The Europe of the Cathedrals: 1140-1280. Trans. Stuart Gilbert. Geneva: Editions d'Art Albert Skira, 1966.

Focuses on French Cathedrals, Gothic architecture. Omits the gargoyles and grotesques to focus on the central art. Serves as an example of the material not covered in Michael Camille's Image on the Edge (see above). Big, beautiful pictures of stainglass windows, good accompanying history. Available at Eugene Public Library.

Humphreys, Henry Noel, and Owen Jones. The Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages: An Account of the Development and Progress of the Art of Illumination, As a Distinct Branch of Pictorial Ornamentation from the IVth to the XVIIth Centuries. London: Bracken Books, 1349. 1989 reprint.

Unscholarly. Not actual medieval manuscript images, but modern reproductions executed on stone and printed in color by the artist Owen Jones. While the pictures are big and pretty, they aren't the real thing. Avoid it in favor of better sources.

Jarry, Madeleine. World Tapestry From Its Origins to the Present. NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1970.

Focuses primarily on tapestry from 14th to 20th century. Does, however, have great example of medieval tapestries, including The Capture of Jerusalem (15th century art), a tapestry showing a band of Wooses (wild, furry men) from late 1300s, and image of mermaids in The Triumph of Love. Good for show and tell, not much else.

Lowrie, Walter. Art in the Early Church. 1947; rev. ed., NY, Harper and Row1969.

[Not Yet Examined, but available in AAA Library]

Mâle, Emile. L'Art Religieux de XIIe siécle en France. Paris, 1922.

Old fashioned, but still widely cited by modern scholars. An emminent study of early Gothic art.

---. L'Art Religieux du XIIIe siécle en France. Paris, 1925.

Ditto the comments above, except it focuses on late Gothic art.

Réau, Louis. Iconographie de l'art chrétien. 4 vols. Paris, 1957.

Very useful. Short, concise entries. Written in French. Available in AAA library.

Medieval Beasts, Bestiaries, etc.

Primary Sources:

Anon. Gesta Romanorum. ed. Herman Oesterley. Berlin, 1871.

"Deeds of the Romans." Miscellaneous legends, Saint's Lives, etc., including interactions with magical beasts.

Anon. South England Legendary. Ed. Charlotte D'Evelyn and Anne J. Mill. EETS 235, 236. London, 1956.

Primarily hagiographical legends (Saint's Lives), but many of the saint's interact with monsters or animals. See in particular the voyage of St. Brendan for encounters with sea-monsters, the Gyascutis, and magical islands.

Cook, A. S. (ed). The Old English Elene, Phoenix and Physiologus. New Haven, 1919.

The Old English version only has a few animals compared to the Latin version of the Physiologus, but it is the version Anglo-Saxons would have had access to, and the one that might have influenced English literature.

Curley, Michael J. Physiologus. Trans. Michael J. Curley. Austen: U of Texas P, 1979.

Technically, this should be a secondary source rather than a primary source, but the book is so useful I include here. Pages xl-xliii have a list of editions of the Physiologus, and modern translations, and general studies on bestiaries.The notes in the back of the book list every primary source that mentions a particular animal as part of a description in abbreviated form before a couple paragraphs of general discussion. Highly readable. Highly useful for students. Available at Knight Library.

Epiphanius, Physiologus. Ed. D. Gonsali Ponce de Leon. 1587.

Attributed to Epiphanius, though we know the Physiologus predates him. Contains entries on many non-fabulous and fabulous beasts/composite monsters.

Fournival, Richard di. Li Bestiaires d'Amours di Maistre Richart de Fornival e li Response du Bestiaire, ed. Cesare Segre. Milan, 1957.

All Italian. All the time. Looks useful if you speak it.

Giraldus Cambrensis. Opera. ed. J. F. Dimock. Vols. v and vi. London, 1867-1868.

Available in a decent Penguin Paperback translation. The original text is Latin, even though Giraldus is himself Welsh.

Ovid. Metamorphoses: Books I-VIII. Trans. Frank Justus Miller. Rev. by G. P. Goold. Loeb Classical Library Series. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP, 1999. [first published 1916.]

Still authoritative after 85+ years in print. The Loeb Classical Library offers each text in facing page translation, with the Latin on the left and the English on the right. It's the version I use. Here's the place to quote as a primary source for classical texts. If you want the medieval version, check out the Ovid moralisée, a French medieval version of Ovid stuffed full of Christian allegory.

Philippe de Thaon. Le bestiaire de Philippe de Thaun. Printed in Wright, Popular Treatises on Science. 1841. rpt, London 1965.

[Not Yet Examined]

Theobaldus. Physiologus of Theobaldus, ed. Richard Morris in An Old English Miscellany. EETS 49. London, 1872.

Available in Knight Library, along with other EETS books (Early English Text Society). Crumbling. Handle with care!

Trevisa, John. Trevisa's Englishing of Bartholomaeus de proprietatibus rerum, libri. xviii. London, 1495.

First English translation of Bartholomeus' pseudo-scientific treatise on the natural philosophies.

Secondary Sources:

Camille, Michael. Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP, 1992.

A controversial and provacative book that applies the literary theories of Mikhail Bakhtin to the figures depicted in the margins of medieval books and the gargoyles on the edges of medieval cathedrals. Camille argues that the presence of frightening, silly, and sexual subject-matter in otherwise religious texts suggests that the margins around "official" art create a cultural space, a no-man's land, where the medieval artist was free to be blasphemous or ridiculous without fear of a backlash from the authorities.

Carroll, William Meredith. Animal Conventions in English Renaissance Non-Religious Prose (1550-1600). NY: 1954.

Not as useful as I hoped. Focuses exclusively on prose treatises. Fairly late.

Cavallo, Adolfo S. The Unicorn Tapestries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. NY: H. M. Abrams, 1998.

Supercedes Rorimer's work on the subject, below.

Chastel, André. "Note sur le Sphinx à la Renaissance." Archivo di Filosofia . . . Università di Roma. Rome, 1958. 179-82.

[Not Yet Examined]

Clausen, Lucy W. Insect Fact and Folklore. 1954: rpt. NY: 1962.

Not limited to the medieval period. Lots of biological/scientific stuff less interesting to a student focused on folklore, mythology, and medieval belief.

Coulter, Cornelia C. "'The Great Fish' in Ancient and Medieval Story." Transactions of the American Philological Society, LVII (1926): 32-50.

Good source for somebody tracking down sea-monsters like Leviathan, the Asp-Turtle, and whatnot.

D'Ayzac, Félicie. "De la zoologie composite . . ." Revue de l'art chrétien, series 4, iv (1886), 13-36.

Really old. Written all in French. Yet one of the better studies on composite monsters.

Druce, G. C. "An Account of the . . . . Ant-Lion." The Antiquaries Journal, III (1923): 347-64.

---. "The Amphisbaena and its Connexions in Ecclesiastical Art and Architecture." Archeological Journal LXVII (1910): 285-317.

---. The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art." Archeological Journal, LXXVI (1919): 1-73.

---. "Some Abnormal and Composite Human Forms in English Church Architecture." Archeological Journal, LXXII (1915): 135-86.

---. "The Symbolism of the Crocodile in the Middle Ages." Archeological Journal, LXVI (1909): 3311-38.

Druce is an old-fashioned scholar, but he knows his stuff. Knight library has The Antiquaries Journal, but the entries in the Archeological Journal aren't available here. Must special order them.

Duchaussoy, Jacques. Le Bestiare Divin. Paris, 1958.

All in French. Focuces on spiritual allegory of each animal.

Einaudi, Guilio, ed. Bestiari Medievali. Parma, Italy: Patriche editrice, 1987. Torino ed. 1996.

Text entirely in Italian and French; most useful to bilingual students. Based primarily on four bestiaries: The Latin Physiologus, the Bestiary of Phillippe de Thaon, the Bestiary of Gervaise, and the Bestiary of Loves. Beautiful color reproductions of images. 644 pages. Don't miss the discussion of how medieval people believed bears reproduced by taking clay from the earth and licking into the shape of a cub, then breathing life into it.

Friedman, John B. and Jessica W. Wegman. Medieval Iconography: A Research Guide. NY: Garland P, 1988.

See chapter "The Natural World," which surveys imagery of animals, plants, stones, and illustrated bestiaries. The chapter "Learned Imagery" also includes sections on alchemy, astrology, Arthurian legends, and mythology. Under "Daily Life" chapter, section on color symbolism. Very useful.

Gotfredsen, Lise. The Unicorn. Trans. Anne Born. NY: Abbeville P, Pub, 1999.

A great book by a Danish scholar.Lots of medieval images appropriately attributed to manuscripts. Good overview of the evolution of the unicorn legend. Well worth a look. Now, at long last, available in English translation at Knight Library.

Gubernatis, Angelo de. Zoological Mythology. 2 vols. London, n.p., 1872.

Very dated. Emphasis on connection to classical mythology as well as to folklore about various animals.

Janson, H. W. Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. London, 1952.

Fun stuff. Did you know that baboons showed their behinds to the moon once per month? Learn other fascinating medieval and classical beliefs about apes. Not available at Knight Library.

Klingender, Francis. Animals in Art and Thought to the End of the Middle Ages. Ed. Evelyn Antal and John Harthan. London, 1972.

Good discussion of transition from classical to medieval, when it comes to the representation of animals.

Lewysohn, L. Die Zoologie des Talmuds. Frankfort, 1858.

Hard to get ahold of. This book covers the Hebrew beliefs about animals in the Middle Ages and in the Talmudic tradition. Written in German.

McCulloch, Florence. Medieaval Latin and French Bestiaries. 1960; rev. ed., Chapel Hill, NC: 1962.

Ultra-scholarly. Actually has good introduction on Greek bestiaries as a predecessor the Medieval Latin and French. Good manuscript information regarding which "families" of texts descended from which sources. The section "principle studies" lists animals alphabetically and then summarizes what each source says about it. You will need to get used to obscure scholarly abbreviations, but it's worth the effort. If you don't read Latin, French, or Greek, consider quoting from this book or from Curley, above. Available at Knight Library.

McDermott, W. C. The Ape in Antiquity. Baltimore, 1938.

Superceded by Janson's more recent work (see above).

Nigg, Joseph, ed. The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to Present. NY; Oxford, Oxford UP, 1999.

Fair-to-excellent source. Includes short and long passages from primary sources in translation. Has a lot of non-medieval material from modern folks like Lewis Caroll and Gustav Flaubert, but don't let that detract from the good stuff. Also has the delightful letter of Prester John to the pope. Less comprehensive than South, below. Four stars.

Robin, P. Ansell. Animal Lore in English Literature. London: J. Murray, 1932. Rpt. 1983.

Not limited to the medieval period. Not available at Knight Library. Must interlibrary-loan it.

Rorimer, James J. The Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters. NY: 1962.

Discussion of the most famous representation of the Unicorn in textile art. Recently replaced by Cavallo, above.

Rowland, Beryl. Animals with Human Faces: A Guide to Animal Symbolism. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1973.

Alphabetizes entries by name of animal or monster. Black and white facsimiles of various manuscript artwork. End of each entry lists, in abbreviated form, some primary sources.(Be sure to read "Bibliographical Note" on pages xviii-xix, to make sense of these abbreviated forms). Select bibliography on pages 169-177. Available Knight Library. Very accessible and easy to use. Two thumbs up. Five stars.

---. Blind Beasts: Chaucer's Animal World. Kent, Ohio: Kent State UP, 1971.

Beryl Rowland is a specialist in medieval animals. This book focuses most extensively on Chaucer's imagery, especially imagery in which humans are compared to animals.

Shepherd, Odell. The Lore of the Unicorn. 1930; rpt., London, 1942.

[Not Yet Examined, Unavailable at Knight Library]

South, Malcolm. Mythical and Fabulous Beasts: A Source Book and Research Guide. NY: Greenwood P, 1987.

Absolutely indispensable. A treasure-hoard of information. Has a glossary of some of the more important fabulous creatures, and will make a great starting spot for any research. Decent bibliography, and a taxonomic chart at the back of book. Doesn't limit itself to medieval material--also has stuff about monsters in modern literature, such as Stephen King. Available at Knight Library. Short Bibliography. Still, two thumbs up. Five stars.

Suhr, Elmer G. "An Interpretation of the Unicorn." Folklore LXXV (1964), 91-109.

Folkloric spin on the Unicorn. A quick read of only eighteen pages.

Szovérffy, Joseph. "Et conculcabis leonem et dracone, embellishments of Medieval Latin Hymns: Beasts in Typology, Symbolism, and Simile." Classical Folia, xvii (1963), no I, 1-4; no. 2, 66-82.

Better work on your Latin before you use this. It does have Christian imagery surrounding various animals.

White, Beatrice. "Medieval Beasts." Essays and Studies, xviii (1965), 35-44.

[Not yet examined]

White, T. H. The Book of Beasts. London, 1954.

As a rule, T. H. White tends toward the fanciful rather than the purely scholarly, but this one is worth a look. The diagram tracing literary influence ("the Family Tree") is helpful for viewing a chain of sources in perspective from one text to another.

Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. NY: 1946.

[Not Yet Examined]

Medieval Heraldry


Guillim, John. A Display of Heraldry. London, 1679.

One of the first printed, as opposed to hand-written, heraldic treatises.


Boutell, Charles. English Heraldry. London: 1902.

Very dated.

Pastoreau, M. Héraldique médievale.

Forthcoming, but not yet available in English at Knight Library. Work is in French. Focuses on medieval heraldry, and animals in heraldic symbols and crests.

Seton, George. The Law and Practice of Heraldry in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1863.

Rather narrow focus, but it has sources translated into English, rather than medieval Latin. Hard book to obtain.

Click here to go to "What is an Annotated Bibliography?" 

Click here to see examples of student bibliographies on medieval monsters written for English 199.


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Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2018. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated April 24, 2018. Contact: kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.
Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2018. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated April 24, 2018.
kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.