What is the physician’s species? In the vernacular beast fables and so-called beast epics that suddenly flourished in the twelfth century, medical (mal)practice forms a central concern. Nearly a tenth of the stories in Marie de France’s Aesopian fable collection deal with illnesses and their treatments; the Roman de Renart, for its part, finds Doctor Fox using his aura of medical authority to torture his fellow animals as part of a cruel and prolonged “cure.” Through an extended analysis of the figure of the doctor, who stands at the center of many of these medical narratives, this article argues that such texts draw their readers into the logic of the “animal clinic”: a conceptual space in which stakes of species difference and predation circulate alongside genuine medical knowledge, with the resulting instability calling into question everything from the nature of the cure to the desire of the sovereign.

You do not currently have access to this content.