IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 220: Words, Origins, and Traditions in Earlier Medieval English Texts

Monday 2 July 2018, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Katherine Miller, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Paper 220-aReconstructing Memory: Digitising Mercian Dialect Analysis in Beowulf
(Language: English)
Berber Bossenbroek, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Universiteit Leiden
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Literacy and Orality
Paper 220-bThe Old English Vocabulary of Sacrifice
(Language: English)
Roland Brennan, Department of English, University College London
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Pagan Religions, Religious Life
Paper 220-cFīonda Nīosian: Deconstructing the Old English Fiend
(Language: English)
Kayla Kemhadjian, School of English, University of Nottingham
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Rhetoric

Paper -a:
In my paper, I propose a digital approach to the analysis of Mercian dialect elements in Beowulf. I constructed an easily searchable database that allows for systematic collection and grouping of dialect elements. Using both primary and secondary sources as reference points for my database, I created an overview of the elements of the Mercian dialect in Beowulf. My paper shows that this digitalisation is a useful expansion of manual text analysis, which can be used as an aid for those concerned with the date or location of origin of the poem.

Paper -b:
This paper considers the terminology for ‘sacrifice’ in Old English, with special focus on the Old Testament poems of the Junius Manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11). Sacrificial ritual is common to both Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian practice and the world of the Old Testament introduced with Christianity. The extant Old English terminology is, however, varied, consisting of rarer, native words such as tifer or blōtan, and words with a loaned basis such as offrung. Through careful analysis, this paper will try to show how the vocabulary of ‘sacrifice’ negotiated sometimes incommensurate aspects of cultural exchange. It is further argued that particulars of pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon sacrificial practice are discernible through careful comparison of native renderings with Biblical sources.

Paper -c:
This paper analyzes and deconstructs the term feond in Old English literature, highlighting the specific nature of its usage in the Nowell Codex (London, British Library, Cotton MS Vitellius A XV). Using Monster Theory, among others, this paper defines the ‘monstrous’ using the culture-specific term, emphasizing the tradition of the ‘fiend’ in connection with Christianity, as well as the monster-less glosses of travel narratives. Ultimately, this paper deconstructs what makes an Anglo-Saxon ‘monster’ through the lexical study of the
term feond.