Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 18066
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Klein , Stacy S.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Reforming Queenship: Gender and Nostalgia in Late Anglo-Saxon Literature
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 34, 3 (Spring 2001): Appendix A: Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies. Conference Paper presented at the Tenth Biennial Meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, University of Helsinki, August 6-11, 2001, "Anglo-Saxons and the North
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Ælfric, Abbot of Eynsham- Esther Cynewulf, Poet-Elene Literature- Verse Nostalga Queens in Literature Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 9-10
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations:
  • Table:
  • Abstract: Over the past several decades, scholars such as Antonia Gransden, Patrick Wormald, and Christopher Jones have characterized the tenth-century Benedictine Reform as a movement driven by a complicated sense of nostalgia: a desire to return both to a faraway Bedan Golden Age, with its firmly entrenched monastic episcopacy, as well as the more immediate past of Edgar's reign in which monasteries flourished, Danish invasions were minimal, and the monastic orders could depend on wholesale support from the royal family. My paper aims to contribute to this recent scholarship by examining late Anglo-Saxon representations of queen-ship that were inflected with that sense of nostalgia. More specifically, the paper focuses on Cynewulfs Elene and +lfric's Esther, both of which feature queens as crucial forces in healing the social and spiritual misery of their communities. Drawing on Patrick Con-ner's recent re-dating of Elene to the tenth century, l offer readings of both texts that situate their royal female heroines in the context of newly emergent ideals of queenship as well as earlier models of queenship that would have been readily available to both writers. Through the changes they make to their Latin sources, both Cynewulf and A--Ifric heighten the sense of the queen as spiritual protectress of her nation, construct-ing queens who concomitantly enact tenth-century queens' increasing formal responsibility for England's spiritual welfare even as they hearken back to seventh-and eighth-century queens who functioned as agents of Christian conversion. It is by now a commonplace to acknowledge that Anglo-Saxon writers used literary representations of the past as a thinly veiled way to speak about the present. However, in both Elene and Esther, we see late antique and biblical pasts trans-formed not so much into simple reflections of their writers' own cultures but into nostalgic reconstructions of an Anglo-Saxon past that reformers strongly hoped might be recaptured. [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation:
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2001.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
  • Material/Technique :
  • Rights: