Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 4244
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Stratyner , Leslie.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Beyond "Gold-hroden": Oral Formulaic Theory and the Women of "Beowulf"
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 33, 3 (Spring 2000): Paper presented at the Thirty-Fifth International Congress on Medieval Studies, The Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, May 4-7, 2000, Session 461: "Beowulf III."
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Beowulf, Old English Epic Feminist Theory Literature- Verse Oral Formulaic Theory Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 8-9
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  • Abstract: Like much poetry rooted in oral tradition, one of the central features of “Beowulf” is that it is agonistically toned, or concerned with praising and blaming the various actions of the central characters. Though a good deal of critical attention has been devoted to the way in which the poem praises and blames its male characters, and the degree to which these characters can work within the seemingly inflexible social code and still determine their own destinies, not much has been done in that regard with the females in “Beowulf.” Does oral-formulaic theory have anything to say in response to some feminist interpretations of Beowulf? What kind of light can a discussion of appositional relationships within the poem (which are key in understanding its agonistic nature) shed upon our understanding of the women within it? Via a synthesis of recent feminist criticism on the poem, and oral-formulaically influenced studies which discuss the role of the Beowulf-poet, the "authenticating voice" of the poem, the "singers" in the poem itself (including Beowulf), and actual formulas utilized to describe the female characters, I examine both the degree and kind of freedom these women have to determine not only their fates, but the fates of nations as well. [Reproduced by permission of the editor Robert L. Schichler and the editors of the Old English Newsletter.]
  • Author's Affiliation: Mississippi University for Women
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2000.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
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