Medical Texts in Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture
Title Details

248 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

Series: Anglo-Saxon Studies

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Medical Texts in Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture

by Emily Kesling

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Winner of the Best First Monograph from the International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England (ISSEME) 2021.

An examination of the Old English medical collections, arguing that these texts are products of a learned intellectual culture.
Four complete medical collections survive from Anglo-Saxon England. These were first edited by Oswald Cockayne in the nineteenth century and came to be known by the names Bald's Leechbook, Leechbook III, the Lacnunga, and the Old English Pharmacopeia. Together these works represent the earliest complete collections of medical material in a western vernacular language.
This book examines these texts as products of a learned literary culture. While earlier scholarship tended to emphasise the relationship of these works to folk belief or popular culture, this study suggests that all four extant collections were probably produced in major ecclesiastical centres. It examines the collections individually, emphasising their differences of content and purpose, while arguing that each consistently displays connections with an elite intellectual culture. The final chapter considers the fundamentally positive depiction of doctors and medicine found within literary and ecclesiastical works from the period and suggests that the high esteem for medicine in literate circles may have favoured the study and translation of medical texts.
Introduction
Bald's Leechbook: A Medical Compendium
Elves, the Demonic, and Leechbook III
The Lacnunga and Insular Grammatica
The Old English Herbarium and the Monastic Reform
Medicine in Anglo-Saxon England
Appendix A: Bald's Leechbook and its Latin Source Material
Appendix B: B.Parallel Passages in the Lacnunga and MS CCCC 41
Bibliography

EMILY KESLING gained her DPhil from the University of Oxford; she is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo.

"Kesling occupies the unenviable position of having produced the first monograph on pre-Conquest medical texts since 1993 in a field that has yielded much scholarly work in the twenty-seven years since Cameron's Anglo-Saxon Medicine. She has done a more than admirable job synthesizing scholarship throughout, and her bibliography is excellent." Journal of British Studies
"In her Medical Texts in Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture, Emily Kesling breaks from this habit of thinking of these manuscripts as a single corpus, and instead focuses on each of the major Anglo-Saxon medieval texts individually. As such, her book should now be considered required reading for anyone researching one of these manuscripts." Speculum

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9781843845492

February 2020

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9781787446908

February 2020

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Title Details

248 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

Series: Anglo-Saxon Studies

Imprint: D.S.Brewer