Woman As Hero in Old English Literature by Jane Chance, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Woman As Hero In Old English Literature

Woman As Hero In Old English Literature

by Jane Chance
     
 

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The first comprehensive study of heroic women figures in Anglo-Saxon literature investigates English secular and religious prose and poetry from the seventh to the eleventh centuries. Given the paucity of surviving literature from the Anglo-Saxon period, the works which feature major women characters — often portrayed as heroes — seem surprisingly

Overview

The first comprehensive study of heroic women figures in Anglo-Saxon literature investigates English secular and religious prose and poetry from the seventh to the eleventh centuries. Given the paucity of surviving literature from the Anglo-Saxon period, the works which feature major women characters — often portrayed as heroes — seem surprisingly numerous. Even more striking is the strength of the female characterizations, given the medieval social ideal of women as peaceful, passive members of society. The task of this study is to examine the existing sources afresh, asking new questions about the depictions of women in the literature of the period. Particular attention is focused on the failed, possibly adulterous women of 'The Wife's Lament' and 'Wulf and Eadwacer', the monstrous mother of Grendel in 'Beowulf', and the chaste but heroic figures and saints Judith, Juliana, and Elene. The book relies for its analysis on recent and standard texts in Anglo-Saxon studies and literature, as well as a thorough grounding in Latin and vernacular historical documents and Anglo-Saxon writings other than the focal literary texts.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Chance (English, Rice University) sees women in Anglo-Saxon literature as heroic rather than peripheral. Good women are modeled on the Virgin Mary, bad ones on Eve. Less obvious is woman's role as ``peace-weaver'': through marriage and childbearing, she linked tribes; through her ritual role in the mead-hall, she strengthened the comitatus. Grendel's vengeful mother, then, is an ``inversion'' of the Anglo-Saxon ideal of woman. The book is a useful supplement to the more general works on Anglo-Saxon literature focusing on man the warrior; its primary audience is the specialist in the period or the student of women in literature. Margaret Hallissy, English Dept., Long Island Univ., C.W. Post Campus, Greenvale, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597522601
Publisher:
Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2005
Pages:
174
Product dimensions:
(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Chance, Professor of English and Women and the Study of Gender at Rice University, has published twenty books and many articles and reviews on medieval women, medieval feminist historiography and mythography, Geoffrey Chaucer, and modern medievalism (Tolkien in particular), among other topics. Her most recent book is a pioneering collection of biographical profiles and memoirs entitled Women Medievalists and the Academy (2005), with seventy contributors. Among her other books are Christine de Pizan's Letter of Othea to Hector (1990), Medieval Mythography: From Roman North Africa to the School of Chartres, AD 433-1177 (1994)—winner of the 1994 South Central Modern Language Association Book Award—and several collections, including Gender and Text in the Later Middle Ages (1996). Her essay on Beowulf, The Structural Unity of Beowulf: The Problem of Grendel's Mother, has been reprinted six times, most recently in the Norton Beowulf critical edition (2001). Her essay Classical Myth and Gender in the Letters of Abelard and Heloise: Glossed, Gloss, Glossator, published in Listening to Heloise, won the first Best Essay Prize offered by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship in 2005. General editor of the Library of Medieval Women and two other series, she has received many fellowships and has directed two NEH summer seminars/institutes.

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