The Politics of Tradition: Examining the History of the Old English Poems The Wife’s Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer
By Berit Åström
PhD Dissertation, Umeå University (2002)
Abstract: Old English literary studies is a fascinating field of research which spans many various approaches including philology and linguistics as well as literary and cultural theories. The field is characterised by a certain conservatism, what in this thesis is referred to as tradition.
This thesis examines the scholarship on The Wife’s Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, projecting its cumbersome affinities with tradition as a conservative force as well as the resistance against it. The investigation focuses mainly on two aspects of scholarly research: the emergence of a professional identity among Anglo-Saxonist scholars and their choice of either a metaphoric or metonymic approach to the material.
A final chapter studies the concomitant changes within Old English feminist studies. The thesis also summarises the approaches to points of ambiguity in the poems, and provides a comprehensive bibliography of scholarship on the two texts.