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James Paz

Anglo-Saxon ‘things’ could talk. Nonhuman voices leap out from the Exeter Book Riddles, telling us how they were made or how they behave. In The Husband’s Message, runic letters are borne and a first-person speech is delivered by some kind of wooden artefact. Readers of The Dream of the Rood will come across a tree possessing the voice of a dreaming human in order to talk about its own history as a gallows and a rood. The Franks Casket is a box of bone that alludes to its former fate as a whale that swam aground onto the shingle, and the Ruthwell monument is a stone column that speaks as if it were living wood, or a wounded body.

This book uncovers the voice and agency that these nonhuman things have across Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture. It makes a new contribution to ‘thing theory’ and rethinks conventional divisions between animate human subjects and inanimate nonhuman objects in the early Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon writers and craftsmen describe artefacts and animals through riddling forms or enigmatic language, balancing an attempt to speak and listen to things with an understanding that these nonhumans often elude, defy and withdraw from us. The active role that things have in the early medieval world is also linked to the Germanic origins of the word, where a þing is a kind of assembly, with the ability to draw together other elements, creating assemblages in which human and nonhuman forces combine. Anglo-Saxon things teach us to rethink the concept of voice as a quality that is not simply imposed upon nonhumans but which inheres in their ways of existing and being in the world; they teach us to rethink the concept of agency as arising from within groupings of diverse elements, rather than always emerging from human actors alone.

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Reading materially

John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’

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Heather Blatt

3 Reading materially: John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’ Allone as I went vp and doun, I ane abbay wes fair to se, Thinkand quhat consolatioun Wes best in to aduersitie, On cais I kest on syd myne e And saw this writtin vpoun a wall: ‘Off quhat estait, man, that thow be, Obey and thank thi God off all’. Robert Henryson, ‘Abbey Walk’1 Like other texts addressed in these chapters, the short lyric poem ‘Abbey Walk’, by the late fifteenth-century Scots poet Robert Henryson, engages the work of reading in ways that facilitate and even

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Gothic materialities

Regina Maria Roche, the Minerva Press, and the bibliographic spread of Irish gothic fiction

Christina Morin

4 Gothic materialities: Regina Maria Roche, the Minerva Press, and the bibliographic spread of Irish gothic fiction Evocative of the nationally transformative potential of travel sketched in The old Irish baronet (1808) and The tradition of the castle (1824), Regina Maria Roche's The castle chapel (1825) establishes the global journey of one of its two protagonists as the key to restored and refreshed identities at home. Compelled by his dependent status to conciliate the favour of a rich uncle by travelling first to India and then

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Recycling materials, recycling lives

Cardboard publishers in Latin America

Lucy Bell

4 Recycling materials, recycling lives: cardboard publishers in Latin America Lucy Bell Latin American editoriales cartoneras are small, independent publishers that make their books by hand out of recycled cardboard and aim to sell them at prices lower than those of large publishing houses. This cultural movement first began in Buenos Aires in the wake of the 2001 economic crisis, during which unemployment rates soared and people had a home one week but were homeless the next. One of the most visible impacts of the deep recession was the appearance of thousands

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Monstrous materialities

Ash dieback and plant biosecurity in Britain

Judith Tsouvalis

11 Monstrous materialities: ash dieback and plant biosecurity in Britain Judith Tsouvalis The aim of the edited volume Science and the politics of openness is to raise awareness of the double-sided controversial nature of initiatives aimed at improving relations between science, policymaking, politics and publics. Efforts have been made to strengthen public trust in expert knowledge. These include dialogues organised between scientists and concerned publics on contentious, ethically complex issues, inviting specific publics to help decide the trajectories of

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Don Slater

5 Markets, materiality and the ‘new economy’ Don Slater Introduction The contemporary ‘cultural turn’ in thinking about economic processes has been deeply bound up with narratives of ‘dematerialisation’. We might start from Veblenesque stories of status symbols, and proceed through semiotic stories of ideologies and codes, through tales of post-industrial societies and service economies, through post-Fordist segmentation and lifestyling and finally on to knowledge, information or ‘weightless’ economies, ‘new economies’, global brands and digital commodities

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Introduction

On Anglo-Saxon things

Series:

James Paz

afterwards, the twisted pattern of fate; that is a wondrous thing to speak.] (Exeter Book Riddle 39)2 Anglo-​Saxon things and theory Things could talk in Anglo-​Saxon literature and material culture. Many of these Anglo-​Saxon things are still with us today and are still talkative. Nonhuman voices leap out from the Exeter Book riddles, telling us where they came from, how they were made, how they do or do not act. In The Husband’s Message, runic letters are borne and a first-​person speech is delivered by some kind of wooden artefact. Readers of The Dream of the Rood in

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Series:

James Paz

. Given that they did not simply exist ‘up there’ in heaven but maintained an embodied presence on earth, early medieval saints came to be associated with very particular places, peoples and landscapes, with built and natural environments, with certain body parts, materials, artefacts, sometimes animals. Of the earliest English saints, St  Cuthbert is probably one of, if not the, best known and even today remains inextricably linked to the north-​east of the country, especially the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and its flora and fauna. This chapter looks at how the books

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Nataša Gregorič Bon

7 Silenced border crossings and gendered material flows in southern Albania Nataša Gregorič Bon My friend Maria and I were sitting on the front porch of the house of the village teacher, Naso, admiring his garden in the spring sun.1 Naso was in the kitchen, preparing a welcome drink (qeras/kerasmo2). Within a few minutes he was in the doorway, holding two glasses of peach juice, which he carefully set on the table in front of us. He smiled and said: When a man is at home alone he brings the drinks in his hands and not on a tray as his wife would do. This is

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Series:

James Paz

inability to gain complete mastery over them’.2 A significant obstacle to recognising the agency of things is the common-​sense assumption that they are inert: the assumption that a ‘thing’ must be an inanimate material object. This too has been rethought by modern thing theorists, who have shown that all matter has a vibrant materiality.3 Gases and liquids flow, take new forms, vanish into air. Organic solids breathe, eat, create energy, rot, decay. Even hard inorganic solids like rocks erode into sands that are sorted and carried in water down to the seas. To