Material literature in Anglo-Saxon poetry

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Title: Material literature in Anglo-Saxon poetry
Author: Schubert, Layla A. Olin, 1975-
Abstract: The scattered instances depicting material literature in Anglo-Saxon poetry should be regarded as a group. This phenomenon occurs in Beowulf, The Dream of the Rood, and The Husband's Message. Comparative examples of material literature can be found on the Ruthwell Cross and the Franks Casket. This study examines material literature in these three poems, comparing their depictions of material literature to actual examples. Poems depicting material literature bring the relationship between man and object into dramatic play, using the object's point of view to bear witness to the truth of distant or intensely personal events. Material literature is depicted in a love poem, The Husband's Message, when a prosopopoeic runestick vouches for the sincerity of its master, in the heroic epic Beowulf when an ancient, inscribed sword is the impetus to give an account of the biblical flood, and is also implied in the devotional poem The Dream of the Rood, as two crosses both pre-and-post dating the poem bear texts similar to portions of the poem. The study concludes by examining the relationship between material anxiety and the character of Weland in Beowulf, Deor, Alfred's Consolation of Philosophy, and Waldere A & B. Concern with materiality in Anglo-Saxon poetry manifests in myriad ways: prosopopoeic riddles, both heroic and devotional passages directly assailing the value of the material, personification of objects, and in depictions of material literature. This concern manifests as a material anxiety. Weland tames the material and twists and shapes it, re-affirming the supremacy of mankind in a material world.
Description: x, 208 p. A print copy of this thesis is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/10909
Date: 2010-06


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