IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 1201: Emotion in Old English Poetry

Wednesday 12 July 2006, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Jonathan Wilcox, Department of English, University of Iowa
Paper 1201-aThe Word-Hoard Revisited: A Comparison of the Oral and Written Components of the 'Communication-Hoard' in Beowulf and The Wanderer
(Language: English)
Rebecca G. Addy, Department of English, University of Nebraska, Kearney
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Literacy and Orality
Paper 1201-b'A Hideous Light': Grendel and the Limits of Anger
(Language: English)
Hilary E. Fox, Department of English, University of Notre Dame
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English

Abstract paper -a: The Anglo-Saxon word-hord represents a tripartite communication-hord: the word, thought, and emotion-hords. Important cultural experiences generate thoughts and emotions that elicit a need for communication. Initially expression is verbal, but as its importance increases, it is solidified into written language. The non-verbal behaviors natural to oral communication reveal layered meanings not easily replicated in written communication. In compensation, devices were employed to portray the subtleties of the thought and emotion-hoards. The ‘word-hoard’ is more than a collection of words; rather it is the combination of devices that form the essence of the tripartite human linguistic ability.

Abstract paper -b: Beowulf scholars have long debated what Grendel is – man, giant, demon, unquiet spirit – without reaching a consensus. This paper will explore his nature not, as previous scholars have done, by studying physical descriptors, but rather by analysing the anger that dominates Grendel’s appearances in the poem. The qualifiers appended to his anger, the linking of his emotional state to his physical appearance and violence, and the contrast between his rage and the ‘controlled’ rage of Beowulf – can be used to argue that Grendel is the embodiment of extreme, destructive (and human) wrath.