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.
As the centuries go by, there is always a crowd before that picture, gazing into its depths, seeing their own faces reflected in it, seeing more the longer they look, never being able to say quite what it is that they see.
For years, it was not clear if Beowulf and Andreas were dating or had simply found
This is the second time I have written about Beowulf . This is also the second time I have written about Beowulf in the weeks following and – now, as I revise this chapter – preceding the births of my two youngest children. Beowulf and babies. Beowulf and babies? The only easy connection I can make is alliterative. For scenes of childbirth and infant caregiving fall outside the narrative purview of the poem. Yet, in Beowulf 's opening lines, birth and childcare are brought to centre stage in the story of Scyld Scefing. A foundling of
The ink spilled defining weeping as women's work in Beowulf far exceeds the volume of their tears. We have made too much of the summary line at the opening of the Finnsburh episode declaring Hildeburh a ‘geomuru ides’ (sad woman) (1075b) as ‘meotodsceaft bemearn’ (she mourned over the decree of fate) (1077a).
At the funeral she directs for her son and brother, ‘ides gnornode, / geomrode giddum’ (the woman mourned with songs) (1117–18).
But send thou to Hygelac, if the war have me,
The best of all war-shrouds that now my breast wardeth,
The goodliest of railings, the good gift of Hrethel,
The hand-work of Weland.
Beowulf , trans. William Morris
The novel Beowulf , an account of a London tearoom during the Blitz, occupies a curious and somewhat embarrassing place in early medieval literary studies. The first notice that early medievalists took of it is a brief entry in Donald Fry's bibliography of the Old English poem: ‘Bryher, Winifred. Beowulf : A Novel. NY, 1956. No relation to the poem.’
This entry poses several interesting questions about the nature of bibliographic inquiry because it explicitly distances itself from the
I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The
Intimacy sells. So, apparently, does Beowulf : feature films, a TV series, operas, graphic novels, translations, and a pride of
reticence; the other, externalized public expression. But in Beowulf , these two senses of intimacy powerfully converge at moments when stories are shared and recited: moments in which knowledge is communicated through narrative and community is inwardly synthesized. It is in these moments of convergence between narrative and communal intimacy that a profound experience of joy tends to materialize in the poem.
The first such communal experience of joy is short-lived, destroyed almost as quickly as it is created. Set in motion by the construction of
Emotional connections to the young hero in Beowulf
Wiglaf, the young warrior who helps Beowulf kill the dragon at the end of the poem, offers a new definition of heroic masculinity for a post-Beowulf (not post- Beowulf !) world. The premise of the Dating
Beowulf collection allows an examination of Wiglaf's affective and emotional contributions to the poem as a whole. When the critical focus turns to Wiglaf, moving Beowulf and the other Geats into ancillary roles in Wiglaf's narrative, we see that his performance of heroism includes emotional association, understood as
‘What's an old, 3000-line poem like you doing in a place like this?’
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 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