Filled with drama and action, here is the story of the ninth-century life and times of Alfred—warrior, conqueror, lawmaker, scholar, and the only king whom England has ever called "The Great." Based on up-to-date information on ninth-century history, geography, philosophy, literature, and social life, it vividly presents exciting views of Alfred in every stage of his long career and leaves the reader with a sharply-etched picture of the world of the Middle Ages.
Bede: Part 1
Edited by George Hardin Brown and Frederick Biggs Amsterdam University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PA8260.B7598 2017
Bede is the inaugural volume in the Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture series, which seeks to comprehensively map British literary culture from 500 to 1100 CE. This volume presents four texts, or fascicles, dedicated to the Venerable Bede (d. 735), theologian and author of the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. Articles provide a wealth of information on Bede through manuscript evidence, medieval library catalogs, citations, and quotations. Using discussions of source relationships, the entries weigh and consider different interpretations of Bede’s works and suggest possibilities for future research. Part of an exciting new reference series, this book“and those that follow“will be indispensable to anyone interested in the history and literature of the period.
Bede: Part 2
Edited by George Hardin Brown and Frederick M. Biggs Amsterdam University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PA8260.B7598 2017
This newest volume in a long-running work of mapping the sources of Anglo-Saxon literary culture in England from 500 to 1100 CE takes up one of the most important authors of the period, the eighth-century monk-scholar known as the Venerable Bede. Bede is best known as the author of the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, which is one of the key sources for our historical and cultural knowledge of the period; this collection covers that and more, drawing on manuscript evidence, medieval library catalogues, Anglo-Latin and Old English versions, citations, quotations, and more, putting Bede and his work in the context of his period.
In Beowulf and the Grendel-kin: Politics and Poetry in Eleventh-Century England, Helen Damico presents the first concentrated discussion of the initiatory two-thirds of Beowulf’s 3,182 lines in the context of the sociopolitically turbulent years that composed the first half of the eleventh century in Anglo-Danish England.
Damico offers incisive arguments that major historical events and personages pertaining to the reign of Cnut and those of his sons recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Encomium Emmae Reginae, and major continental and Scandinavian historical texts, hold striking parallels with events and personages found in at least eight vexing narrative units, as recorded by Scribe A in BL, Cotton Vitellius A.xv, that make up the poem’s quasi sixth-century narrative concerning the fall of the legendary Scyldings.
Given the poet’s compositional skill—widely relational and eclectic at its core—and his affinity with the practicing skalds, these strings of parallelisms could scarcely have been coincidental. Rather, Damico argues that examined within the context of other eleventh-century texts that either bemoaned or darkly satirized or obversely celebrated the rise of the Anglo-Danish realm, the Beowulfian units may bring forth a deeper understanding of the complexity of the poet’s compositional process.
Damico illustrates the poet’s use of the tools of his trade—compression, substitution, skillful encoding of character—to reinterpret and transform grave sociopolitical “facts” of history, to produce what may be characterized as a type of historical allegory, whereby two parallel narratives, one literal and another veiled are simultaneously operative.
Beowulf and the Grendel-Kin lays out the story of Beowulf, not as a monster narrative nor a folklorish nor solely a legendary tale, but rather as a poem of its time, a historical allegory coping with and reconfiguring sociopolitical events of the first half of eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon England.
The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century: The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 reveals the dynamic role a seemingly marginalized community played during a defining period for the emergence of English religious identity. Based on her new critical edition of additions made to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 and by questioning the purpose of those late tenth-century additions, Karen Louise Jolly is able to uncover much about the Chester-le-Street scribes and their tumultuous time, rife as it was with various political tensions, from Vikings and local Northumbrian nobles to an increasingly dominant West Saxon monarchy.
Why, for instance, would a priest laboriously insert an Old English gloss above every Latin word in a collection of prayers intended to be performed in Latin? What motivated the same English scribe to include Irish-derived Christian materials in the manuscript, including prayers invoking the archangel Panchiel to clear birds from a field?
Jolly’s extensive contextual analysis includes a biography of Aldred, the priest and provost of the community primarily responsible for adding these unusual texts. Besides reinterpreting the manuscript's paleography and codicology, she investigates both the drive for reform evidenced by the added liturgical materials and the new importance of Irish-derived encyclopedic and educational materials.
Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World: Studies to Honor the Memory of Timothy Reuter is edited by Sarah Larratt Keefer, Karen Louise Jolly, and Catherine E. Karkov and is the third and final volume of an ambitious research initiative begun in 1999 concerned with the image of the cross, showing how its very material form cuts across both the culture of a society and the boundaries of academic disciplines—history, archaeology, art history, literature, philosophy, and religion—providing vital insights into how symbols function within society. The flexibility, portability, and adaptability of the Anglo-Saxon understanding of the cross suggest that, in pre-Conquest England, at least, the linking of word, image, and performance joined the physical and spiritual, the temporal and eternal, and the earthly and heavenly in the Anglo-Saxon imaginative landscape.
This volume is divided into three sections. The first section of the collection focuses on representations of “The Cross: Image and Emblem,” with contributions by Michelle P. Brown, David A. E. Pelteret, and Catherine E. Karkov. The second section, “The Cross: Meaning and Word,” deals in semantics and semeology with essays by Éamonn Ó Carragáin, Helen Damico, Rolf Bremmer, and Ursula Lenker. The third section of the book, “The Cross: Gesture and Structure,” employs methodologies drawn from archaeology, new media, and theories of rulership to develop new insights into subjects as varied as cereal production, the little-known Nunburnholme Cross, and early medieval concepts of political power.
Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World: Studies to Honor the Memory of Timothy Reuter is a major collection of new research, completing the publication series of the Sancta Crux/Halig Rod project. Cross and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England: Studies in Honor of George Hardin Brown, Volume 2 in this series, remains available from West Virginia University Press.
As Volume One in the Sancta Crux/Halig Rod series, this collection of new research offers fascinating glimpses into how the way the cross, the central image of Christianity in the Anglo-Saxon period, was textualized, reified, visualized, and performed. The cross in early medieval England was so ubiquitous it became invisible to the modern eye, and yet it played an innovative role in Anglo-Saxon culture, medicine, and popular practice. It represented one of the most powerful relics, emblems, and images in medieval culture because it could be duplicated in many forms and was accessible to every layer of society. The volume speaks to critical issues of cultural interpretation for Anglo-Saxonists, medievalists of all disciplines, and those interested in cultural studies in general.
Essays in Anglo-Saxon Studies v.8 (Glasgow, 2015).
Insights into the lives of any group of historical people are provided by three main types of evidence: their language, their literature and their material culture. The contributors to this volume draw on all three types of evidence in order to present new research into the lives of the Anglo-Saxons. The particular focus is on daily life – the ordinary rather than the extraordinary, the normal rather than the exceptional. Rather than attempting an overview, the essays address individual scenarios in greater depth, but with an emphasis on shared experience.
The following scholars have contributed essays to this collection:
University of Oregon
Carole P. Biggam
University of Glasgow
University of Nottingham
Amy W. Clark
University of California, Berkeley
University College London
Macquarie University, Sydney
University of Glasgow
Liverpool Hope University
Karen Louise Jolly
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
This book takes a critical approach to the dominant explanation for the transformation from post-Roman to 'Anglo-Saxon' society in Britain from the fifth to the eighth century: that change resulted from north-west European immigration into Britain. After testing this paradigm, the author explores the increasing amount of evidence for the gradual evolution of late Roman into early medieval England, and suggests some new directions for research that may lead to the development of more holistic explanatory models.
The twenty-first century has been marked by an “oceanic turn” and by groundbreaking new research on the previously hidden depths of maritime life, literature, and culture. The Maritime World of the Anglo-Saxons builds upon these new areas of research as the first major volume of essays to explore Anglo-Saxon England’s complex relationship to its maritime history, economy, and sensibilities. Individual essays focus on maritime travel, Viking invasions by sea, littoral culture, the archeology of the whale, and literary mythologies of monstrous sea creatures, bringing together insights from a range of disciplines: archeology, history, literature, paleography, linguistics, art history, critical theory, geography, and cultural studies.
The first comprehensive edition and translation of Old English writings on health and healing in more than 150 years.
Unlike elsewhere in Europe, vernacular writings on health and healing had a major place in early medieval England. These texts—unique local remedies and translations of late antique Latin treatises—offer insights into the history of science and medicine, social history, scribal practices, and culture. Some cures resemble ones still used today; others are linguistically extravagant, prescribing ambitious healing practices. Alongside recipes for everyday ailments such as headaches are unparalleled procedures for preventing infant mortality, restoring lost cattle, warding off elf-shot, or remedying the effects of flying venom.
Medical Writings from Early Medieval England presents the first comprehensive edition and translation from Old English of these works in more than 150 years. Volume I includes The Old English Herbal, Remedies from Animals, Lacnunga, the Peri Didaxeon, and a compendium of miscellaneous texts.