Say What I am Called: A Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Self-Referential Inscriptions
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This thesis compiles a working corpus of Anglo-Saxon self-referential inscribed artifacts to examine how the inscriptions and supports utilize self-reference to push the viewer to understand the social and cultural significance of such objects. The inscriptions fall into two broad categories: personal inscriptions reinforce the prestige of the makers, owners, and commissioners associated with them, while impersonal inscriptions authorize philosophical and social discourse through the adoption of literary and oral types (i.e. genres). In addition to an analysis of specific artifacts—ranging from diminutive rings to monumental stone crosses—I provide a quantitative analysis that illustrates the different uses of languages, scripts, and object types. As opposed to literary texts, self-referential inscribed objects create internally complete hermeneutic units that connect the text’s discursive meaning with the function and significance of the thing itself. The inscriptions and their supports structure knowledge about Anglo-Saxon social relationships, liturgical practices, and cultural wisdom.