Writing Power in Anglo-Saxon England

April 2012
206 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Anglo-Saxon Studies
ISBN: 9781843843191
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, HIS037010, HIS015000

Writing Power in Anglo-Saxon England

Texts, Hierarchies, Economies

Catherine A.M. Clarke

New study of the complexities of how power operates in a number of Anglo-Saxon texts.
"A work of fine and nuanced intelligence... Skilled and learned readings of a number of important texts. Fluent, polished, and beautifully written." Dr Katy Cubitt, University of York.

The formation and operation of systems of power and patronage in Anglo-Saxon England are currently the focus of concerted scholarly attention. This book explores how power is shaped and negotiated in later Anglo-Saxon texts, focusing in particular on how hierarchical, vertical structures are presented alongside patterns of reciprocity and economies of mutual obligation, especially within the context of patronage relationships (whether secular, spiritual, literal or symbolic). Through close analysis of a wide selection of sources in the vernacular and Latin (including the Guthlac poems of the Exeter Book, Old English verse epitaphs, the acrostic poetry of Abbo of Fleury, the Encomium Emmae Reginae and Libellus Æthelwoldi Episcopi), the study examines how texts sustain dual ways of seeing and understanding power, generating a range of imaginative possibilities along with tensions, ambiguities and instances of disguise or euphemism. It also advances new arguments about the ideology and rhetoric of power in the early medieval period.

Catherine A.M. Clarke is Professor in English, University of Southampton.

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Table of Contents

Order and Interlace: the Guthlac Poems of the Exeter Book
Sites of Economy: Power and Reckoning in the Poetic Epitaphs of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
'Absens ero ... presens ero': Writing the Absent Patron
Power and Performance: Authors and Patrons in late Anglo-Saxon Texts
Remembering Anglo-Saxon Patronage: the Libellus Æthelwoldi Episcopi and its Contexts


T]ruly focused and perceptive work. SPECULUM

Offers its readers many illuminating insights. ... [The author's] nuanced approach to her subject and its complexities is one of the book's great strengths and will prove thought provoking and highly rewarding for the attentive reader. JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL LATIN

The volume's greatest strengths are its thorough grounding in the critical history of its texts; its meticulous attention to detail and close reading; and its willingness to suspend judgment and sustain ambiguity in examining complex questions.[It] is a pleasure to read, and serves as a fine model for undertaking careful and detailed close reading, thoroughly grounded in critical history, to illuminate aspects of texts that have been hitherto unappreciated (or at least underappreciated) in the scholarship. MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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