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  • Titill er á ensku (Re-)Making Meanings: Digesting the Beasts of Battle in Old English and Old Norse Poetry
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  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    The beasts of battle motif in medieval literature has received extensive scholarly scrutiny in Old English scholarship, while their ubiquity has been similarly commented on in the field of Old Norse poetry. These studies have often focused on the construction of the motif and its application in the respective fields of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse-Icelandic poetry, as devices thematically and structurally linked to scenes of battle or violent death. These structural considerations—where, when, and how the beasts are found in medieval literature—require reappraisal if we are to reach a more nuanced understanding of these many witnesses and the means of their comparison. In addition, the motif as articulated in Old English and Old Norse poetry, specifically, benefits from a consideration of both its allusive underpinnings and stylistic applications, which ultimately reveal neither a structural ‘prerequisite’ in Germanic literature nor a concrete dichotomy between the Old English and Old Norse sources. Rather, this thesis elucidates a shared complexity of meaning that exists on the linguistic, symbolic, thematic, and even metrical levels. As such, it is meant as a comprehensive re-evaluation of the interpretive models useful in finding meaning in the beasts of battle, while providing a foundation for further studies in the motif as it appears in individual texts and beyond.

  • 3.5.2016

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