The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment

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Leonard Neidorf
Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2014 - Literary Criticism - 250 pages
"This book will be a milestone, and deserves to be widely read. The early Beowulf that overwhelmingly emerges here asks hard questions, and the same strictly defined measures of metre, spelling, onomastics, semantics, genealogy, and historicity all cry out to be tested further and applied more broadly to the whole corpus of Old English verse." Andy Orchard, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford. The dating of Beowulf has been a central question in Anglo-Saxon studies for the past two centuries, since it affects not only the interpretation of Beowulf, but also the trajectory of early English literary history. By exploring evidence for the poem's date of composition, the essays in this volume contribute to a wide range of pertinent fields, including historical linguistics, Old English metrics, onomastics, and textual criticism. Many aspects of Anglo-Saxon literary culture are likewise examined, as contributors gauge the chronological significance of the monsters, heroes, history, and theology brought together in Beowulf. Discussions of methodology and the history of the discipline also figure prominently in this collection. Overall, the dating of Beowulf here provides a productive framework for evaluating evidence and drawing informed conclusions about its chronological significance. These conclusions enhance our appreciation of Beowulf and improve our understanding of the poem's place in literary history. Leonard Neidorf is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Contributors: Frederick M. Biggs, Thomas A. Bredehoft, George Clark, Dennis Cronan, Michael D.C. Drout, Allen J. Frantzen, R.D. Fulk, Megan E. Hartman, Joseph Harris, Thomas D. Hill, Leonard Neidorf, Rafael J. Pascual, Tom Shippey

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1 Beowulf and Language History
2 Germanic Legend Scribal Errors and Cultural Change
3 Names in Beowulf and AngloSaxon England
4 The Limits of Conservative Composition in Old English Poetry
5 The Date of Composition of Beowulf and the Evidence of Metrical Evolution
6 Beowulf and the Containment of Scyld in the West Saxon Royal Genealogy
7 History and Fiction in the Frisian Raid
9 A Note on the Other Heorot
10 Beowulf and Conversion History
11 Material Monsters and Semantic Shifts
Kaluzas Law and Transliteration Errors
Beowulf and Everything Else

Historiography and Rhetorical History of the Dating of Beowulf Controversy

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