Living Through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020-1220

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OUP Oxford, Jul 5, 2012 - History - 218 pages
Oxford Textual Perspectives is a new series of informative and provocative studies focused upon literary texts (conceived of in the broadest sense of that term) and the technologies, cultures and communities that produce, inform, and receive them. It provides fresh interpretations of fundamental works and of the vital and challenging issues emerging in English literary studies. By engaging with the materiality of the literary text, its production, and reception history, and frequently testing and exploring the boundaries of the notion of text itself, the volumes in the series question familiar frameworks and provide innovative interpretations of both canonical and less well-known works. Living through Conquest is the first ever investigation of the political clout of English from the reign of Cnut to the earliest decades of the thirteenth century. It focuses on why and how the English language was used by kings and their courts and by leading churchmen and monastic institutions at key moments from 1020 to 1220. English became the language of choice of a usurper king; the language of collective endeavour for preachers and prelates; and the language of resistance and negotiation in the post-Conquest period. Analysing texts that are not widely known, such as Cnut's two Letters to the English of 1020 and 1027, Worcester's Confraternity Agreement, and the Eadwine Psalter, alongside canonical writers like Ælfric and Wulfstan, Elaine Treharne demonstrates the ideological significance of the native vernacular and its social and cultural relevance alongside Latin, and later, French. While many scholars to date have seen the period from 1060 to 1220 as a literary lacuna as far as English is concerned, this book demonstrates unequivocally that the hundreds of vernacular works surviving from this period attest to a lively and rich textual tradition. Living Through Conquest addresses the political concerns of English writers and their constructed audiences, and investigates the agenda of manuscript producers, from those whose books were very much in the vein of earlier English codices to those innovators who employed English precisely to demonstrate its contemporaneity in a multitude of contexts and for a variety of different audiences.
 

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Contents

Their dialect proverbs and songs The Context of Conquest
1
The Process of Conquest
9
The Propaganda of Conquest
28
The Silence of Conquest
48
The Trauma of Conquest
69
The Writing of Conquest
91
The Remains of Conquest
122
The Unity of Conquest
147
A Truth of Conquest
167
Bibliography
188
Index of Manuscripts
209
General Index
211
Copyright

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About the author (2012)


Elaine Treharne is Professor of Early English at Florida State University and Visiting Professor of Medieval Literature at the University of Leicester. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Historical Society, and a Trustee of the English Association. She is series editor of
the English Association's Essays and Studies, and series editor, with Greg Walker, of Oxford Textual Perspectives. She is Medieval Editor for Review of English Studies, Literature Compass, and the Year's Work in English Studies. She is currently working on a detailed study of the fleshy materiality
of the medieval book from 500 to 1500AD (The Sensual Book), and the emphasis on the medieval in the work of William Morris, Eric Gill, Edward Johnston and David Jones (From Arts and Crafts to Modernism: Beauty and the Book, 1891-1940).