Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 4158
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Waugh , Robin.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Aelfgifu/Emma and the Reader's Desire
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 34, 3 (Spring 2001): Appendix A: Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies. Conference paper presented at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 9-12, 2001, Session 1016: "Concerning Interpretation and Overinterpretation I
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- Painting Emma, Wife of the Æthelred, King of England, and Cnut, King of Denmark Illumination of Manuscripts Manuscripts Portraits
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 11
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations:
  • Table:
  • Abstract: Fred Orton's work on the Ruthwell and Bewcastle monuments has reminded us all of the importance of looking, of seeing what is actually in front of our eyes and not what we are told is in front of our eyes. This can be difficult to do when one is confronted with something as complex as folio 6 of the Liber Vitae of New Minster and Hyde Abbey (London, BL, Stowe 9444). It is a dedication portrait designed to commemo-rate King Cnut's donation of a gold and jeweled cross to the New Minster probably in the 1020s. But it is also an image of queenship and of kingship, an image of the New Minster community made by and for them, a part of a three-page Last Judgment sequence, and an integral part of the Liber Vitae, the book that commem-orated the dead who were special to the Winchester community. In the case of the portrait, the nature and purpose of the text of which it is a part does not limit the range of interpretations imposed on it, but it does suggest that some interpretations are more admissible than others. In considering what the page might have to tell us about the royal couple, the act of donation, or the concerns and identity of the New Minster commu-nity ca. 1031, the date at which the image is likely to have been produced, we must not forget its location within the book or the context in which it was pro-duced; these are what dictate the arrangement of figures, objects, and words on the page. This paper explores the interpretation of the dedication portrait by scholars in a variety of disciplines, with particular emphasis on the way in which the meaning of the image changes with the personal agenda of the author. [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: Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2001.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973