Style and structure, politics, and preaching : the lives of saints and other alliterative works by Ælfric of Eynsham
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This dissertation centers on selected works of the late Anglo-Saxon author Ælfric of Eynsham. The purpose of the project is to refine our understanding of structural patterning within Ælfric's alliterative works and to provide new literary and historical readings of a selection of his preaching texts. I examine the rhythmical contours of the half-lines in Ælfric's Life of St. George and Life of St. Æthelthryth, arguing that the half-lines pattern regularly enough to be verse while also claiming that they cannot be subdivided into metrical feet. I also demonstrate that Ælfric's whole-lines, while principally constructed of two half-lines, show a fluid verse-to verse movement across lineation through his use of extra-linear alliteration, especially in late works like his Libellus de Veteri Testamento et Novo. Carrying my observations of Ælfric's formal choices into more content-centered readings, I argue that Ælfric's translation and interpretation of scripture in his mid-Lent homily De Oratione Moysi and his use and placement of military saints in the calendar year produce a political message of Viking resistance that most strongly resonates in the spring. I also consider Ælfric's translation practice on a larger scale by interpreting his Life of St. Oswald in light of his treatment of his eighth-century Anglo-Latin source, claiming that by toning down the earth's ability to provide a curing agent, Ælfric desires to keep his listeners or readers from participating in actions similar to popular pagan practices. These structural examinations and historical interpretations are ultimately connected by a consideration of reader and listener expectations tied to existing poetic forms and their cultural connotations.
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