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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 1202: Names, Traces, Puzzles: Close Readings of Old English Texts and Manuscripts

Wednesday 3 July 2019, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Jennifer Neville, Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London
Paper 1202-aThe Naming of the Few: Scribal Emphasis of Names in the Works of Ælfric of Eynsham
(Language: English)
Emily Nicolet Rae, School of Critical Studies (English Language & Linguistics), University of Glasgow
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 1202-bCynewulf's Agency: Old English Diegetic Intervention and Crafting Narratorial Status
(Language: English)
Jacob Runner, School of Cultures, Languages & Area Studies / School of English, University of Nottingham
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Literacy and Orality

Paper -a:
The texts by the Anglo-Saxon homilist Ælfric of Eynsham are filled with reference to the authorities used in their compilation, from the Church Fathers to more contemporary authors. The homilies also include a plethora of names, including those of emperors, warriors, saints, martyrs, and heathens. Within the manuscripts that contain these texts, the use of capitalisation, enlarged initials, and coloured inks for these names varies from manuscript to manuscript, and sometimes even from homily to homily within a single codex. This paper will investigate this variable treatment of names in specific Ælfrician manuscripts, and identify any patterns in how certain names were visually signalled to the reader, as well as if and how these patterns changed over the centuries.

Paper -b:
Four surviving works of Old English poetry contain interlinear runes which can be arranged to provide the proper name of a poet figure, Cyn(e)wulf. Remarkably, however, comparatively little research has attempted to address the intriguing narrative properties simultaneously attained through the belated introduction of this name. Borrowing concepts of narratology advanced by critical literature theorist, Gérard Genette, this paper assesses the differing ways in which the poems display a compelling structural awareness of narrative presence. Ultimately, it is argued that creative manipulation of shifts in narratorial status parallels thematic concerns and underpins the layered emblematic signification of the 'signature' passages.