© University of Toronto Press 2013. Why is Old English poetry so preoccupied with mental actions and perspectives, giving readers access to minds of antagonists as freely as to those of protagonists? Why are characters sometimes called into being for no apparent reason other than to embody a psychological state? Britt Mize provides the first systematic investigation into these salient questions in Traditional Subjectivities. Through close analysis of vernacular poems alongside the most informative analogues in Latin, Old English prose, and Old Saxon, this work establishes an evidence-based foundation for new thinking about the nature of Old English poetic composition, including the ‘poetics of mentality’ that it exhibits. Mize synthesizes two previously disconnected bodies of theory - the oral-traditional theory of poetic composition, and current linguistic work on conventional language - to advance our understanding of how traditional phraseology makes meaning, as well as illuminate the political and social dimensions of surviving texts, through attention to Old English poets’ impulse to explore subjective perspectives.
- Literary Criticism