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The Making of Poetic History in Anglo-Saxon England and Carolingian Francia

Taranu, Catalin (2016) The Making of Poetic History in Anglo-Saxon England and Carolingian Francia. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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CATALIN TARANU PHD THESIS REVISED FIN.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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Abstract

This thesis explores the alternative mode of early medieval history-writing manifested in Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian vernacular poetic texts like Beowulf and the Waltharius. While such sources have long been recognized to contain historical elements, they are usually considered the preserve of literary or linguistic study, since they are primarily labelled as ‘legendary’ or ‘fictional’ due to their many mythical or fantastic elements. This thesis approaches them as historical narratives from the perspective of the textual communities involved in their making and reception, not in order to unpick the pieces of ‘true history’ from ‘fiction’, but rather seeking to reconstruct the vernacular theory of history that informs these texts. In doing this, the present investigation critiques the theoretical underpinnings of previous scholarly approaches to these texts that are based on modern categories (such as the dichotomy history/fiction or on the tandem Germanic-heroic)which misrepresent the attitudes of the creators and audiences of vernacular ‘heroic’ narratives. This thesis employs a series of new approaches drawing on cognitive linguistics, rhizomatic and diffraction theory, leading to a recategorization of these texts as ‘poetic history’, an alternative mode of constructing narratives about the past that is based on different source materials, works according to a different poetics, and fulfils different sociocultural functions from those of early medieval historiography written by ‘proper’ historians such as Bede or chroniclers. Hence, the individual chapters will focus on these issues by exploring the poetics, narrative content, historical evolution, and socio-cultural functions of poetic history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian, Old English, Frankish, early Middle Ages, Germanic, heroic, philology, alternative history, vernacular poetry, Beowulf, Waltharius
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > University of Leeds Research Centres and Institutes > Institute for Medieval Studies (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Institute for Medieval Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Catalin Taranu
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2016 12:25
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 12:25
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13941

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