Featuring essays from some of the most prominent voices in early medieval English studies, Dating Beowulf: studies in intimacy playfully redeploys the word ‘dating’, which usually heralds some of the most divisive critical impasses in the field, to provocatively phrase a set of new relationships with an Old English poem. This volume presents an argument for the relevance of the early Middle Ages to affect studies and vice versa, while offering a riposte to anti-feminist discourse and opening avenues for future work by specialists in the history of emotions, feminist criticism, literary theory, Old English literature, and medieval studies alike. To this end, the chapters embody a range of critical approaches, from queer theory to animal studies and ecocriticism to Actor-Network theory, all organized into clusters that articulate new modes of intimacy with the poem.
What would it mean to ‘date’ Beowulf? 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.
Reading practices and participation in digital and medieval media
theory of authorship: scholastic literary attitudes in the later Middle
Ages. 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
For related studies on the rise of the vernacular in late-medieval
England, see Jocelyn Wogan-Browne et al., Idea of the vernacular: an
anthology of Middle English literarytheory, 1280–1520 (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), as an accessible overview;
see also the essay collections edited by Fiona Somerset and Nicholas
Watson, The vulgar tongue: medieval and postmedieval vernacularity
Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy
it nevertheless, as will be discussed here.
5 Published in Electronic literature collection, vol. 1 (2006), ed. N.
Katherine Hayles et al. http://collection.eliterature.org. For discussions of system time and reading time, see Markku Eskelinen,
Cybertext poetics: the critical landscape of new media literarytheory
(New York and London: Continuum, 2012), at 135–6.
6 Ibid., 136. Eskelinen’s work has shaped discourse on temporality in
new media for years, and still reflects the pervasive influence of secondwave digital media criticism, which sought to
The Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes
Espin Aarseth, ‘Nonlinearity and literarytheory’, in George Landow,
ed., Hyper/text/theory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1994), 51–86, at 66. Aarseth’s work on ergodic literature, within which
he includes nonlinear texts, continues to be influential in the field: also
37 Such a treatment seems to anticipate the fate of hypertext fiction
today, as the taxing effort required to read and assemble narrative has been one of the reasons attributed to the genre’s failure to
gain wide readership. See, for example, Benjamin Paloff, ‘Digital