We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact:

Publication details for Professor Andrew Beresford

Beresford, Andrew M. (2014). Abjection, Marriage, and the Burrowing Worm: The Body as Bounded System in the Dança General de la Muerte. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 91(8): 965-980.

Author(s) from Durham


This article explores the depiction of the burrowing gusano in the Dança general de la Muerte, arguing that Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection offers a previously untested hermeneutic for interpretation. It argues that the action of the worm in devouring the soft tissue of the corpse can be understood in terms of the blurring of traditional dichotomies between internal/external, self/other, and subject/object. The process, which destabilizes our conventional understanding of structure, system, and order, is predicated on an understanding of the body as a semiotic sign system capable of inscribing the subject within the symbolic order. Death is in this way marked as the intrusion of the real into the symbolic, although a significant complication in the Spanish poem is the representation of Muerte as bride, which allows the reader to queer the text and relate abjection to recent advances in gender studies.