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Norse romanticism: subversive female voices in British invocations of Nordic yore

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The mid-eighteenth century publication of national British folk collections like James MacPherson's Works of Ossian and Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, placed a newfound interest in the ancient literature associated with Northern/Gothic heritage. This shift from the classical

The mid-eighteenth century publication of national British folk collections like James MacPherson's Works of Ossian and Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, placed a newfound interest in the ancient literature associated with Northern/Gothic heritage. This shift from the classical past created a non-classical interest in the barbarism of Old Norse society, which appeared to closely resemble the Anglo-Saxons. In addition to this growing interest, Edmund Burke's seminal treatise, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, provided a newfound aesthetic interest in objects of terror. The barbaric obscurity and exoticism associated with the Norse culture provided the perfect figures to explore a Gothic heritage while invoking the terror of the sublime. This interest accounted for a variety of works published with Gothic themes and elements that included Old Norse pagan figures. Though a few scholars have attempted to shed light on this sub-field of Romanticism, it continues to lack critical attention, which inhibits a more holistic understanding of Romanticism. I argue that "Norse Romanticism" is a legitimate sub-field of Romanticism, made apparent by the number of primary works available from the age, and I synthesize the major works done thus far in creating a foundation for this field. I also argue that one of the tenets of Norse Romanticism is the newfound appreciation of the "Norse Woman" as a democratized figure, thus opening up a subversive space for dialogue in women's writing using the Gothic aesthetic. To illustrate this, I provide analysis of three Gothic poems written by women writers: Anna Seward's "Herva at the Tomb of Argantyr," Anne Bannerman's "The Nun," and Ann Radcliffe's "Salisbury Plains. Stonehenge." In addition, I supplement Robert Miles' theoretical reading of the Gothic with three philosophical essays on the empowerment of the imagination through terror writing in Anna Letitia Aikin (Barbauld) and John Aikin's "On the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror" and "On Romances" as well as Ann Radcliffe's "On the Supernatural in Poetry."

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2013

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Translating Marian doctrine into the vernacular: the bodily Assumption in Middle English and Old Norse-Icelandic literature

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This study examines the ways in which translators writing in two contemporary medieval languages, Old Norse-Icelandic and Middle English, approached the complicated doctrine of the bodily Assumption of Mary. At its core this project is dedicated to understanding the spread

This study examines the ways in which translators writing in two contemporary medieval languages, Old Norse-Icelandic and Middle English, approached the complicated doctrine of the bodily Assumption of Mary. At its core this project is dedicated to understanding the spread and development of an idea in two contemporary vernacular cultures and focuses on the transmission of that idea from the debates of Latin clerical culture into Middle English and Old Norse-Icelandic literature written for an increasingly varied audience made up of monastics, secular clergy, and the laity. The project argues that Middle English and Old-Norse Icelandic writing about the bodily Assumption of Mary challenges misconceptions that vernacular translations and compositions concerned with Marian doctrine represent the popular concerns of the laity as opposed to the academic language, or high Mariology, of the clergy.

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2014

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Noaidi - the one who sees: bringing to light the religious experience among the 17th-18th century Sámi

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The ancient religious practices and beliefs of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, known as the Sámi, have been misrepresented and misinterpreted by well meaning ethnographers and researchers who view such practices and beliefs through an Descartes-Cartesian, objective-subjective lens. This

The ancient religious practices and beliefs of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, known as the Sámi, have been misrepresented and misinterpreted by well meaning ethnographers and researchers who view such practices and beliefs through an Descartes-Cartesian, objective-subjective lens. This thesis develops a more accurate, intersubjective paradigm that is used to illuminate more clearly the religious workings of the 17th-18th Century Sámi. Drawing upon the intersubjective theories presented by A. Irving Hallowell, Tim Ingold and Kenneth Morrison, ethnographic examples from the writings of early Lutheran missionaries and priests demonstrate that the Sámi lived in a world that can be best understood by the employ of the categories of Person (ontology), Power (epistemology) and Gift (axiology).

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2014

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The Rhetoric of Reasonableness: Hóf in Civic and Legal Rhetoric of the Medieval Scandinavians

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Rather than being the lawless barbarian society that history and popular culture have painted it, medieval Scandinavian culture was more complex and nuanced. This dissertation interrogates the use of a rhetoric of reasonableness (hóf) in the medieval Nordic society to

Rather than being the lawless barbarian society that history and popular culture have painted it, medieval Scandinavian culture was more complex and nuanced. This dissertation interrogates the use of a rhetoric of reasonableness (hóf) in the medieval Nordic society to give voice to this silenced tradition. Specifically, this research focuses on the use of rhetoric in civic and legal settings to show that medieval Scandinavians were more interested in reasonable solutions than unreasonable ones.

Civic rhetoric among the medieval Nordic people relied heavily on hóf to keep civic practice manageable. Working in small towns and villages without central bureaucracies, reasonableness became important to the functioning of the village. Large scale disruptions could mean the death of all inhabitants in the area due to social disruption if violence occurred, so finding reasonable means of dealing with social problems was of paramount importance to the Norse. Using readings and analysis from the Icelandic sagas, I show the mechanisms of their rhetoric were used to manage civic life.

Legal rhetoric was also based on reasonableness. If civic actions became violent or potentially violent, then the courts needed a way to redress and maintain the peace in the area. The practice of law was heavily influenced by the rhetorical stance of hóf. The Scandinavian tradition of court cases appears in their early laws and in several sagas which allows a picture to be created of their rhetorical stance of reasonableness in the law cases. Analysis of historical data and saga manuscripts give evidence of a rhetorical tradition of reasonable redress in the legal system.

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2020