Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture: Dating Beowulf: Studies in intimacy (Hardcover)

The Dating of Beowulf. A Reassessment. Ed by Leonard Neidorf. In the poem, Beowulf, was first published. Contrary to what might be expected, though, this book is not about the prehistory of this debate. Whether by evil intent or not, the result was a profound tectonic shift in the understanding of the poem, which through these machinations was handed over to a long series of literary critics of all ilks and genders. This backlash was led by R. Fulk, who slowly gathered steam from and onwards. In , this resulted in his seminal publication on History of the Old English Meter. Finally, last year, Leonard Neidorf presented a volume with the title: The dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment, which offers a number of very detailed studies presenting overwhelming indices for the date proposed by Fulk based on his linguistic studies.

The Dating of Beowulf

The date of Beowulf, debated for almost a century, is a small question with large consequences. Does the poem provide us with an accurate if idealized view of early Germanic culture? Or is it rather a creature of nostalgia and imagination, born of the desire of a later age to create for itself a glorious past? If we cannot decide when, between the 5th and 11th centuries, the poem was composed, we cannot distinguish what elements in Beowulf belong properly to the history of material culture, to the history of myth and legend, to political history, or to the development of the English literary imagination.

This book represents both individual and concerted attempts to deal with this important question, and presents one of the most important inconclusions in the study of Old English. The contributors raise so many doubts, turn up so much new and disturbing information, dismantle so many long-accepted scholarly constructs that Beowulf studies will never be the same: henceforth every discussion of the poem and its period will begin with reference to this volume.

The date of Beowulf, debated for almost a century, is a small question with large ramifications. This collection of essays by leading scholars has become a stan.

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Looking for intimacy (in all the scholarly places)

One point reiterated on Twitter was that the editors did not respond to the social media critiques for almost two weeks; I suggest that ire should be redirected towards the press itself. Should it have been? Absolutely yes.

For the past three weeks #MedievalTwitter has largely criticized the new Dating Beowulf volume, released 26 December on the open-access.

And what do we learn when we try? This playful pun on one of the more controversial terms in the scholarship on this poem allows a consideration of the range of intimacies generated by it as well as a conditioning of both the poem and its scholarship. Accordingly, this introductory chapter seeks to get intimate with Beowulf, drawing on critical discussions of affect, queer historiography, and contemporary literary theory in order to form a kind of dating profile that serves as a conceptual framework for the various modes of intimacy in and with the poem that emerge throughout the volume.

Dating Beowulf coheres as a project in presenting a new set of readings — both critical and personal — that aim to generate new avenues of discussion for an Old English poem too often mired in critical impasses, and this opening essay frames the conversation accordingly, highlighting the various couplings and methodological approaches on display, while articulating the relevance of the early Middle Ages to affect studies and vice versa. This playful pun on one of the more controversial terms in the scholarship on the poem allows a consideration of the range of intimacies generated by it as well as a conditioning of both the poem and its scholarship.

Indeed, we, the editors, sincerely hope that you, the reader, considered the subtitle to this volume before picking it up. This collection of essays is in no way concerned with localizing the historical date of the composition of Beowulf , whether in manuscript or modern edited forms. In fact, the injunction not to address in any way the date of the poem’s composition was given as a strict thematic and formal requirement to the contributors before they composed their chapters.

But what kind of dating site would Beowulf be on anyway? The cool convenience of an app, of swiping right, a pay-to-play matchmaking service, or OkCupid?

Neidorf, Dating of “Beowulf”

The date of Beowulf , debated for almost a century, is a small question with large consequences. Does the poem provide us with an accurate if idealized view of early Germanic culture? Or is it rather a creature of nostalgia and imagination, born of the desire of a later age to create for itself a glorious past?

If we cannot decide when, between the 5th and 11th centuries, the poem was composed, we cannot distinguish what elements in Beowulf belong properly to the history of material culture, to the history of myth and legend, to political history, or to the development of the English literary imagination. This book represents both individual and concerted attempts to deal with this important question, and presents one of the most important inconclusions in the study of Old English.

arriving in numbers only late in the eighth century and early in the ninth, when Vikings began raiding the English coast. Yet the Beowulf poet shows no inkling that.

Beowulf survives in a single medieval manuscript. Some scholars have suggested that the manuscript was made at the end of the 10th century, others in the early decades of the 11th, perhaps as late as the reign of King Cnut, who ruled England from until The most likely time for Beowulf to have been copied is the early 11th century, which makes the manuscript approximately 1, years old. Apart from Beowulf , the manuscript contains several other medieval texts. These comprise a homily on St Christopher; The Marvels of the East also known as The Wonders of the East , illustrated with wondrous beasts and deformed monsters; the Letter of Alexander to Aristotle ; and an imperfect copy of another Old English poem, Judith.

Beowulf is the penultimate item in this collection, the whole of which was copied by two Anglo-Saxon scribes, working in collaboration. The first-recorded owner of Beowulf is Laurence Nowell died c. The Cotton library formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum in , before being incorporated as part of the British Library in During the 18th century, the Cotton manuscripts were moved for safekeeping to Ashburnham House at Westminster. On the night of 23 October a fire broke out and many manuscripts were damaged, and a few completely destroyed.

Beowulf escaped the fire relatively intact but it suffered greater loss by handling in the following years, with letters crumbling away from the outer portions of its pages. Placed in paper frames in , the manuscript remains incredibly fragile, and can be handled only with the utmost care. Public Domain in most countries, other than the UK. Victoria Symons puzzles out the meaning of monsters in Beowulf , comparing the hero with Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon.

The Massachusetts Medievalist on Dating Beowulf and dating Beowulf

The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment. This collection, published under the same title as the University of Toronto Press volume that it hopes to supersede, grew out of a conference at Harvard University. Thirteen contributors reconsider the dating of Beowulf , and each of them concludes or accepts that Beowulf was composed in the eighth century.

Dating is also important to note that all of the Newspaper have a tradition of being gigantic beowulf stature did all of them come to prideful ends? In this tale, the.

The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment, ed. Brewer, ISBN The aims of this volume of fourteen essays, which emerged from a Harvard conference, are twofold: first, it seeks to counter claims that Beowulf like many other Old English poems is essentially undatable; secondly, it mounts a sustained challenge to arguments in favour of ninth- or tenth-century composition in particular those advanced by Roberta Frank and John D. Niles , presenting a range of reasons for assigning the poem in something close to its present form to the early Anglo-Saxon period, roughly The case for an ‘early’ Beowulf ‘was so uncontroversial in the early twentieth century that in his British Academy lecture J.

Tolkien accepted ‘without argument’ the widespread attribution of the poem to ‘the age of Bede’. Despite some dissenting voices, it was only in the aftermath of the Toronto conference and its proceedings, The Dating of Beowulf ed. Colin Chase Toronto, , that the possibility that the poem was composed closer to the date of its only extant manuscript c.

Since then, such a bewildering array of dates and contexts for Beowulf has been proposed, stretching from the seventh to the eleventh centuries, that it has become fashionable to dismiss the quest for a date as a fool’s errand. However, as this volume’s editor Leonard Neidorf argues in his introduction, while we may never know the precise circumstances of Beowulf’s composition, transmission, and final copying, there is in fact a wide range of methodologies–of varying degrees of reliability–available to scholars seeking to establish a chronology of Old English verse.

Several chapters make significant new contributions to our understanding of the literary and historical contexts not only of Beowulf itself but of The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment.

Dating Beowulf : Studies in Intimacy

Beowulf is a narrative meditation in traditional Old English alliterative verse on the origins of violence in human affairs; it was included in the Nowell Codex, an ethnographic miscellany compiled around the year on the most exotic peoples in space and time known to the Anglo-Saxons. No one knows when, where, by whom, or for whom this poem was first composed during the previous half millennium, but it was likely preserved, copied, or created at the court of King Alfred in the s.

The hero confronts three monsters who personify forces that tear apart human communities and bring them to ruin: Grendel, who displays the power of entrenched tribal chauvinism; his mother, who reveals the source of such hatred in wounded love of kind; and the dragon, who embodies a more generalized principle of negative eventuality— wyrd —which renders all human efforts, even those of the noble hero, compromised and ultimately self-defeating.

JOHN C. POPE Dating the composition of Beowulf may prove to be an enterprise of that endlessly inconclusive sort that Milton allotted to the philosophers.

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The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment

The date of Beowulf, debated for almost a century, is a small question with large consequences. Does the poem provide us with an accurate if idealized view of early Germanic culture? Or is it rather a creature of nostalgia and imagination, born of the desire of a later age to create for itself a glorious past? If we cannot decide when, between the 5th and 11th centuries, the poem was composed, we cannot distinguish what elements in Beowulf belong properly to the history of material culture, to the history of myth and legend, to political history, or to the development of the English literary imagination.

This book represents both individual and concerted attempts to deal with this important question, and presents one of the most important inconclusions in the study of Old English. The contributors raise so many doubts, turn up so much new and disturbing information, dismantle so many long-accepted scholarly constructs that Beowulf studies will never be the same: henceforth every discussion of the poem and its period will begin with reference to this volume.

The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment. Pp. x +. (Anglo-Saxon Studies 24). Cambridge.: D. S. Brewer.,. Hardback.

Beowulf is considered to be the oldest surviving example of a heroic epic written in Old English. Depicting the Germanic ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons, specifically the Danes and the Geats, it deals with the time period that followed the invasion of England by Germanic tribes in However, while it is generally acknowledged that the epic was written long after the events it describes, scholarly consensus regarding where and when Beowulf was written remains elusive with proposed dates ranging from the early eighth century to the late tenth century.

The only surviving manuscript of Beowulf , generally dated to around , was severely damaged in a fire at the Cottonian Library in London which destroyed much of the physical evidence i. Although each of these methods has particular strengths, none of them has succeeded in establishing a definitive date. It is beyond the scope of this article to give a summary of the evidence that has been used to date Beowulf. However, it will discuss some of the approaches towards dating Beowulf as well as some of the implications of the prolonged scholarly debate on this subject.

Two of the most important methods for dating the epic are through linguistic and historiographical both paleological and historical analysis. The linguistic method involves looking at the internal evidence of the text, specifically its language spelling, grammar, sound changes, etc. When considering the effectiveness of this form of analysis, it is important to remember that linguistic analysis is largely based on a reconstruction of the rules governing Old English metre and the chronology of Old English sound changes, both of which are theoretical and debatable.

The second method involves attempts to place Beowulf into a specific historical context, an approach which analyses references to historical events, implicit societal attitudes, and paleological artifacts like the relics found at the Sutton Hoo burial mentioned in the epic. While this method ostensibly considers evidence that is more “objective” than linguistic evidence, historiographical analysis also involves a degree of scholarly interpretation which undermines its reliability.

Beowulf (In Our Time)


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