Old English Literature


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Critical Essays

Edited by R. M. Liuzza

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Recognizing the dramatic changes in Old English studies over the past generation, this up-to-date anthology gathers twenty-one outstanding contemporary critical writings on the prose and poetry of Anglo-Saxon England, from approximately the seventh through eleventh centuries. The contributors focus on texts most commonly read in introductory Old English courses while also engaging with larger issues of Anglo-Saxon history, culture, and scholarship. Their approaches vary widely, encompassing disciplines from linguistics to psychoanalysis.

In an appealing introduction to the book, R. M. Liuzza presents an overview of Old English studies, the history of the scholarship, and major critical themes in the field. For both newcomers and more advanced scholars of Old English, these essays will provoke discussion, answer questions, provide background, and inspire an appreciation for the complexity and energy of Anglo-Saxon studies.

R. M. Liuzza is associate professor of English at Tulane University.

“A generous selection of some of the more thoughtful, searching scholarly approaches to Old English literature in recent years, introduced with Professor Liuzza’s characteristic clarity, succinctness and grace. This collection will help teachers of Old English bring their students to a quick and far more subtle appreciation of the shorter poems and prose texts in their manifold contexts.”—Craig R. Davis, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

“Professor Liuzza’s stimulating collection of recent essays deploy a rich array of critical approaches around Old English texts commonly encountered in college courses. The essays are thought-provoking, never dull and occasionally controversial. They represent some of the most exciting work in the field today. Liuzza’s introduction—and the volume as a whole—reminds us that the meanings we take from the Old English texts emerge only after a complex set of interpretive choices that predate the medieval scribe’s labors in a scriptorium and extend to the student’s first encounter in a classroom today.”—Daniel Donoghue, Professor of English, Harvard University

“The essays in this stimulating collection are thought-provoking, never dull, and occasionally controversial. They represent some of the most exciting work in the field today.”—Daniel Donoghue, Harvard University

“Liuzza has selected an appealing range of essays—from investigations of literacy and issues of editing to historical and critical interpretations—that nicely exemplifies Old English literary scholarship from the last quarter century. By centering on precisely the poetry and prose most often encountered in an introductory Old English course, this volume will be a great resource for students grappling with translating these works, as well as for those reading them in translation in a survey of early literature. Liuzza provides an elegant introductory essay suggesting the challenges and joys of interpreting literature written a millennium ago.”—Jonathan Wilcox, University of Iowa, editor of the Old English Newsletter 

“This invaluable volume fills an obvious gap in the field by offering a series of first-rate essays that introduce students to the culture, historiography, and literature of Anglo-Saxon England. Liuzza’s introduction to the book is written with his characteristic lucidity, directness, and wit.”—Nicholas Howe, The Ohio State University

ISBN: 9780300091397
Publication Date: February 8, 2002
518 pages, 6 x 9
5 b/w illus.