Alaric’s abstracts

Útrásarvíkingar! The Literature of the Icelandic Financial Crisis (2008–2014) focuses on novels published in Icelandic during 2008–14 that responded to the 2008 Crash. As well as adding a key case-study to research on how writers globally have responded to that crisis, this book is one of the only recent monograph-length examinations of contemporary Icelandic literature, aiming to provide a window for Anglophone readers into Iceland's current literary scene. Chapter 1, 'Opening an account', briefly outlines the history of the Crash in Iceland, discusses key concepts, and outlines the main themes of the book. Chapter 2, 'The crisis of realism', focuses on the handling of high finance in fiction, and particularly the limitations of post-War Western realism when it comes to examining complex social interactions. It explores how one of the main responses to the Crash among Icelandic literary writers, particularly those born in the years around 1980, was pained self-examination. Chapter 3, 'Neomedievalism and a microstate', charts Iceland's post-colonial anxiety about its status in the world, which is perhaps more prominent in Crash-fiction than the Crash itself. It focuses on the use and abuse of medieval and folkloric texts by current fiction-writers and charts changing identities in twenty-first century Iceland, particularly in relation to globalisation, tourism, gender, and Iceland's post-colonial anxieties of identity. Chapter 4, 'Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, knight of industry', is a case study of writing inspired by the most prominent (though not the most culpable) figure in the boom that preceded the 2008 crash. It focuses on the work of older writers, born around the 1960s, and the ways in which they rewrite Björgólfur Thor's own medievalism to criticise boom-time Icelandic society and its participation in neo-colonialism. Chapter 5, 'Utopianism', seeks finally to examine what ways out of the crisis writers were imagining in the immediate aftermath of the Crash. It focuses on Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl's 2009 novel Gæska. The concluding chapter, 'Interest payments', emphasises that Icelandic Crash-writers have in some ways been ahead of medievalist scholars in thinking about the relationship between traditional, nationalist medievalism and 'neo-medievalist', Islamophobic medievalism. It sketches some of the characteristics of Iceland's literary scene that seem to have been useful to helping it respond to a moment of crisis.

For reviews and responses see:

Elves in Anglo-Saxon England: Matters of Belief, Health, Gender and Identity. Anglo-Saxon elves (Old English ælfe) are one of the best attested non-Christian beliefs in early medieval Europe, but current interpretations of the evidence derive directly from outdated nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship. Integrating linguistic and textual approaches into an anthropologically-inspired framework, Elves in Anglo-Saxon England reassesses the full range of evidence. It traces continuities and changes in medieval non-Christian beliefs with a new degree of reliability, from pre-conversion times to the eleventh century and beyond. Adducing comparative material from medieval Ireland and Scandinavia, the book argues for a dynamic relationship between beliefs and society. In this way, it illuminates constructions of group identity in the pivotal first centuries of Anglo-Saxon culture and interprets the cultural significance of elves as a cause of illness in medical texts, affording new insights into the much-discussed Scandinavian magic of seiðr. Elf-beliefs, moreover, were connected with Anglo-Saxon constructions of sex and gender; their changing nature provides a rare insight into an intractable but fascinating area of early medieval European culture.

This book supersedes Alaric's Ph.D. thesis.

For reviews and responses see:

Interfaces between Language and Culture in Medieval England: A Festschrift for Matti Kilpiö, edited by Alaric Hall, Olga Timofeeva, Ágnes Kiricsi and Bethany Fox, gathers twelve articles promoting the growing contacts between historical linguistics and medieval cultural studies. They fall into two groups. One examines the interrelation in Anglo-Saxon England between Latin and vernacular language and culture, investigating language-contact between Old English and Latin, the extent of Latinity in early medieval Britain, Anglo-Saxons' attitudes to Classical culture, and relationships between Anglo-Saxon and Continental Christian thought. Another group uses historical linguistics as a method in the wider cultural study of medieval England, examining syntactic change, dialect, translation and semantics to give us access to politeness, demography, and cultural constructions of colour, thought and time. The volume will be of particular interest to scholars of Anglo-Saxon culture and Middle English language. Contributors are Olga Timofeeva, Alaric Hall, Seppo Heikkinen, Jesse Keskiaho, John Blair, Kathryn A. Lowe, Antonette DiPaolo Healey, Lilla Kopár, C. P. Biggam, Ágnes Kiricsi, Alexandra Fodor and Mari Pakkala-Weckström.

'Leeds Studies in English: A History', is novel as a detailed, archive- and interview-based case-study of the history of an arts and humanities journal, which in turn enables the writing of intellectual history not via the usual approach of producing biographies of scholars, but via the intergenerational development of an intellectual institution. Despite the epistemological importance of the scholarly journal, few thorough histories of individual academic journals have been written, especially of journals in the arts and humanities. This article uses both archival material and oral histories to construct a multifaceted history of Leeds Studies in English (LSE) from the beginning of its ‘new series’ in 1967 to its merger with the Bulletin of International Medieval Research and transformation into Leeds Medieval Studies in 2021. Where appropriate, the article also examines LSE’s earlier incarnation, Leeds Studies in English and Kindred Languages, which ran from 1932 to 1952. By studying a journal embedded in a particular university department, the article develops a novel institution-based and intergenerational history of English Studies and Medieval Studies over the last century, distinct from histories that focus on the biographies of individual scholars, or on intellectual developments without regard to the quotidian institutional structures that shape and mediate intellectual life. The history of LSE provides nuanced perspectives on the fracturing of nineteenth-century philology into English Literature, English Language, and Linguistics during the twentieth century, and the internationalist reconfiguration of philological methods as Medieval Studies in the later twentieth century and early twenty-first. The article also lends time-depth to current debates about the place of voluntarism in journal editing and about how journals and libraries can best make research as widely available as possible. Moreover, it offers perspectives on these debates specific to the arts and humanities, which tend to be marginalised in discussions of academic publishing due to their focus on the natural sciences.

'"I am a Virgin Woman and a Virgin Woman's Child": Critical Plant Theory and the Maiden Mother Conceit in Early Medieval Riddles' is a foray into cross-cultural reading of early medieval riddles. While early medieval riddles in Old English and, to a lesser extent, Latin, have been studied extensively from ecocritical perspectives in recent years, the large corpora of riddles in other languages of western Eurasia have yet to benefit from or feed back into these methodological developments. Meanwhile, ecocritical research generally has focused on animals at the expense of plants. We respond to both problems by providing the first extensive study of riddles whose solutions are plants, through the lens of one recurrent conceit in ancient and medieval verse riddles in Arabic, Greek, Latin, Old Norse and, we argue, Hebrew. The conceit is that a plant is a virgin woman who nevertheless reproduces. By examining different permutations of this motif, we show how these riddles use plants to comment on human gendering, and how, while usually fundamentally patriarchal in their world-views, they register patriarchal anxiety at women’s reproductive capabilities, acknowledge critiques of patriarchal constraints on women, and queer gender norms in other ways; inter alia we note that the Old Norse riddle studied here may be the only explicit (albeit metaphorical) representation of female homosexual eroticism in the Old Norse corpus. However, we also draw on critical plant theory to explore how the riddles situate plants in medieval Abrahamicate cultures, uncovering implicit recognitions of the dynamic and reciprocal relationships between human farmers and their family structures, the plants that domesticate them, people’s and plants’ mutual shaping of the ecosystems they inhabit or colonise, and the economies that these interactions constitute.

'Latin and Hebrew Analogues to the Old Norse Leek Riddle' is a note adding a little knowledge to our understanding of Norse and Hebrew riddles. It has been thought that of the forty or so surviving Old Norse riddles, only two have close parallels in the wider international riddle tradition. This note shows, however, that the riddle on the leek in the probably thirteenth-century Heiðreks saga has a close parallel in one of the late antique or early medieval Bern Riddles, on garlic. Moreover, the larger conceptual structure of the leek riddle, which positions the leek as an inverted person situated between the earth and the sun, is paralleled by one of the riddles of the tenth-century Hebrew poet Dunash ben Labraṭ ha-Levi, which figures the sun and its light as a tree with its roots in the sky and its branches in the ground. The riddles of Heiðreks saga are more integrated into wider riddle culture than has been realised, and comparison of Dunash’s work with the Old Norse and Latin material helps to settle debate about the solution to Dunash’s riddle.

'Jarlmanns saga og Hermanns: A Translation' is the first full translation of this saga into English. Agnete Lothʼs edition of the longer version of Jarlmanns saga og Hermanns included an accompanying English paraphrase (by Gillian Fellows Jensen), but there has never been a full translation into English, much less of the shorter version as edited by Hugo Rydberg. We rectify that omission, providing a normalized text of Rydbergʼs edition with an English translation alongside in the hopes of making this entertaining saga more accessible to a wider audience.

'Njáls saga Stemmas, Old and New', tackles the problem that, despite its fame as the pre-eminent medieval Icelandic saga, Njáls saga lacks a stemma comprehending all the saga’s manuscripts: only the vellum manuscripts have been surveyed in detail. As part of the Variance of Njáls saga (Breytileki Njáls sögu) project, we produced a stemma of nearly all witnesses to chapters 44, 86, and 142. This affords the first systematic insight into the post-medieval manuscript transmission of the saga. The present article focuses on two aspects of the post-medieval transmission which turn out to be of particular interest: the huge popularity of the lost medieval manuscript *Gullskinna in the post-medieval scribal tradition, and a revision of the branch of the Njáls saga stemma labelled as *Y by Einar Ólafur (noted for being represented by Oddabók, AM 466 4to).

'How did the world come into being?', is a fleeting, light-hearted report of Leeds students collecting accounts of how the world came into being.

'Fornaldarsögur and Financial Crisis: Bjarni Bjarnason’s Mannorð' is a relatively rare example of research on the modern reception of the medieval Icelandic genre of the fornaldarsögur. This article examines Bjarni Bjarnason's 2011 novel Mannorð, which draws heavily on Gautreks saga. Bjarni's work is shown to belong to a trend in Icelandic novels touching on the 2008 financial crisis: these often draw on medieval sources, specifically from outside the usual nationalist canon of Eddas and Íslendingasögur. Mannorð tells of a fictitious banker (inspired by the real-life Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson) seeking to regain his reputation following the Crash, and models this banker on Gautreks saga's sinister Óðinn-hero, Starkaður. In doing so, the novel satirises and subverts Björgólfur Thor's enthusiasm for associating himself with medieval vikings and specifically with the god Þór. Unusually for Icelandic financial-crisis novels, Mannorð also situates Iceland's role in the financial crisis productively in a wider global frame, using the story from Skáldskaparmál of how Óðinn killed nine slaves by making them compete for a whetstone to explore how Icelandic finance is implicated in the oppression of the developing world.

'Translating the Medieval Icelandic Romance-Sagas' is a short note surveying recent work done on translating romances composed in medieval Iceland into English, focusing on translations produced at the University of Leeds. It describes the ongoing project of the author and his collaborators to produce further translations for free-access publication.

'Sigrgarðs saga frækna: a normalised text, translation, and introduction', provides the first complete translation into English of the fifteenth-century Icelandic romance Sigrgarðs saga frækna (the saga of Sigrgarðr the Valiant), along with a normalised edition of the earliest manuscripts based on that of Agnete Loth. The introduction shows that the saga artfully combines material from both the learned tradition of romances and exempla, and from traditional wonder-tales, showing an unusual warmth towards low-status genres and characters. It argues that the setting of the story articulates Icelandic identity by associating it with the otherworldly setting of the heroes’ climactic quest, and studies the constructions of gender implicit in the saga. While clearly heteronormative and potentially patriarchal in its ideological commitments, the saga probes and arguably destabilises the patriarchal culture of late medieval Iceland.

'Jón the Fleming: Low German in Thirteenth-Century Norway and Fourteenth-Century Iceland', offers a case study of the sociolinguistic contexts for early Low German influence on Old Norse. Low German influence is one of the most prominent characteristics of Old Norse in the later medieval period, but the processes whereby this took place are little evidenced. However, Laurentius saga, Einarr Hafliðason’s fourteenth-century Icelandic biography of Bishop Laurentius Kálfsson, provides anecdotal evidence for this that has been overlooked by researchers. The anecdotes concern the linguistic (mis)adventures of a Low German-speaker in thirteenth-century Norway—the otherwise unknown Jón flæmingi (Johannes the Fleming)—and, perhaps uniquely in medieval Scandinavian texts, they also provide a representation of L2 Norse. Problematic and brief though this source is, it affords us valuable perspectives both on fourteenth-century Icelandic metalinguistic discourses and on the processes whereby Low German influence took place in thirteenth- to fourteenth-century Norse. Contrary to some recent assumptions, Laurentius saga suggests that Low German and Old Norse were not seen as mutually intelligible; it provides some support for the idea that Low German influence was responsible not only for loan words into Old Norse, but also for morphological levelling; and emphasises that in seeking vectors of Low German influence on Old Norse we should look not only to Hanseatic traders, but also to the Church.

'Madness, Medication--and Self-Induced Hallucination? Elleborus (and Woody Nightshade) in Anglo-Saxon England, 700-900' studies what Anglo-Saxons in around 700--900 understood by the Latin plant-name elleborus, looking particularly at Aldhelm's Latin riddle Elleborus, which suggests that the word was understood to denote woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara). It examines the semantics of Old English words that gloss elleborus in earlier Anglo-Saxon sources: wedeberge, ceasteræsc, ceasterwyrte, and ælfþone. The article finds evidence for the presence of a copy of Dioscorides’ De materia medica in seventh-century Canterbury. It also argues for a culturally significant connection between ingesting woody nightshade, the production of an altered state of mind attested in Latin as dementia cordis and in Old English as wedenheortnes, and elves. Ælfþone might originally have meant something along the lines of ‘vine which causes the symptoms which elves cause’. It seems likely that there was a custom of ingesting it deliberately to achieve mind-altering effects.

'Elleborus in Anglo-Saxon England, 900–1100: Tunsingwyrt and Wodewistle' examines the meanings of the Latin word elleborus in later Anglo-Saxon England. They prove to have varied, from Ælfric’s implicit assertion around 1000 that elleborus had no vernacular Old English counterpart, to the association by the translator of the Old English Herbarium, perhaps around 900, of elleborus albus with tunsingwyrt, which seems to have denoted an allium such as wild garlic, to the use of the gloss wodewistle, denoting hemlock or some similar plant, by the Antwerp-London glossator in the earlier eleventh century. The study offers minor insights on a range of subjects: Ælfric’s use of Latin words in his Old English texts; the prospect that the Old English Herbarium marks an influential watershed in Anglo-Saxon scholarship on Latin plant-names; that with careful use of glossaries derived from the Herbarium we can discern a lost early version of this text which is subtly different from our surviving manuscripts, and closer to its Latin original. However, the main focus of this article has been the problematic word tunsingwyrt. The most likely interpretation suggested by the evidence is that tunsingwyrt denoted an allium — and if so, probably wild garlic.

' "You Tempt me Grievously to a Mythological Essay": J. R. R. Tolkien’s Correspondence with Arthur Ransome', edits a letter from Tolkien to Ransome held in the Brotherton Library of the University of Leeds. On December 13th 1937, the celebrated children’s author Arthur Ransome wrote to J. R. R. Tolkien with a few comments on Tolkien’s newly published book The Hobbit. Tolkien lost no time in replying, and his letter provides one of his earliest comments on his published fiction, and a relatively early explicit commentary on his mythic writing. This article publishes for the first time Tolkien’s response to Ransome in its entirety, and answers some of the questions regarding the chronology of Tolkien’s correspondence which arise. An analysis of the letter reveals that while, as many scholars have shown, the ‘sources’ and ‘inspirations’ of The Hobbit include the likes of Beowulf and the Poetic Edda, already in 1937—and contrary to his own later claims—Tolkien’s principal primary source for fleshing out his prose stories with characters, places, and references to historical events was the vast legendarium he had created himself.

'A gente Anglorum appellatur: The Evidence of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum for the Replacement of Roman Names by English Ones During the Early Anglo-Saxon Period' argues that Bede's Historia ecclesiastica contains unnoticed evidence for the processes of transition from Roman to Anglo-Saxon toponymy in early Anglo-Saxon England. Bede uses two different formulas to specify that place-names are English: a gente Anglorum appellatur (‘called by the people of the English’) and lingua Anglorum (‘in the language of the English’). The first phrase is used exclusively of places whose English names show phonetic continuity with Roman ones; the second with a more heterogeneous group which mostly does not show phonetic continuity. This demands explanation. The explanation suggested here is that major places (likely to be spoken of throughout a whole gens) enjoyed greater stability of nomenclature than minor ones.

'Making Stemmas with Small Samples, and New Media Approaches to Publishing them: Testing the Stemma of Konráðs saga keisarasonar': with relatively few scholars and a large number of texts whose manuscript transmission has yet to be mapped, Icelandic literature would benefit from efficient ways of establishing stemmas, to facilitate the study of literature, linguistics, scribal culture, and so Icelandic history more generally. This is also true for much medieval literature. Meanwhile, in saga-studies as in stemmatology generally, there has been little discussion of the role of sampling in textual criticism, even though most scholars must make heavy use of it. This article tests the viability of creating a stemma using a small sample of text by independently drawing a stemma of Konráðs saga keisarasonar, whose stemma was previously established by Zitzelsberger, and testing it against Zitzelsberger's. Although the approach has limitations, at worst it produces known unknowns which can then be resolved through targeted study; in practice it produces results very similar to Zitzelsberger's; and in some cases it actually allows us to improve on his work. The article also capitalises on internet publication rigorously to include all underlying data and to experiment with new, more transparent, ways of publishing stemmas; and to use digitised data to provide a new overview of the long manuscript tradition of medieval Icelandic romance sagas. Finally, it describes and filiates two new manuscripts of the saga identified in Winnipeg by Katelin Parsons. It concludes by sketching what the stemma of Konráðs saga can tell us about Icelandic scribal culture during its long post-medieval history.

'The Contemporary Evidence for Early Medieval Witchcraft-Beliefs' is a note drawing attention to a group of early medieval texts relevant to the history of European witchcraft, and the reasons why they have been overlooked. The main texts are the Life of St Samson, the Old English medical text Wið færstice and the Life of St Swithun.

'Sigurðar saga fóts (The Saga of Sigurðr Foot): A Translation' is the first English translation of the short Icelandic romance Sigurðar saga fóts, with an introduction presenting the evidence for its dating and immediate literary context. Like most Icelandic romances, Sigurðar saga is a bridal-quest story; the support of a foster-brother is key to the hero winning the bride; and the foster-brothers start out as opponents before recognising their mutual excellence and swearing foster-brotherhood. Uniquely, however, the men who become foster-brothers begin by competing for the same bride (Signý): the eponymous Sigurðr fótr wins Signý only because Ásmundr gives her to him in exchange for foster-brotherhood. Ásmundr’s decision can be read as demonstrating with unusual starkness the superior importance in much Icelandic romance of homosocial relationships over heterosexual ones, giving the saga a certain paradigmatic status. Translating the saga in an open-access forum and reconstructing its literary context will, we hope, encourage further analyses.

'The Instability of Place-names in Anglo-Saxon England and Early Medieval Wales, and the Loss of Roman Toponymy' makes its contributions in three main areas, pragmatic, theoretical and historical:

'Interlinguistic Communication in Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum', seeks better to understand the processes whereby English and, to a lesser extent, Gaelic, expanded in early medieval Britain at the expense of the p-Celtic dialects. Most research has tried to examine this process in its earliest, prehistoric phases, but the present study focuses on the (near-)contemporary evidence for its seventh- and eighth-century phases provided by Bede and other writers of his time. Bede's concern about Anglo-Saxons' limited access to Latin is abundantly clear, but taken together, a number of hints also point towards his sensitivity to Roman and British Latin-language traditions in Britain. British Latin maintained features of vulgar Latin pronunciation as well as some distinctive semantics; Bede disliked both, but the fact that he saw fit to snipe at them may itself be evidence for the vigour of British Latin--and arguably for Bede's own anxiety at the fragility of Anglo-Saxons' Latin heritage relative to Britons' deeper traditions. Bede's evidence also suggests that British Latin was heard rather than merely read, and not only heard in the liturgy. However, we also have some evidence that by the decades around 700--whether more in Bede's time or the 660s is hard to guess--Latin would not have afforded its speakers much leverage at major ecclesiastical meetings in Northumbria, and perhaps also, therefore, in Irish-speaking regions. It seems that such meetings were, at least at times, being conducted in English and Irish, even when we might imagine Latin to have been a useful lingua franca. This does not tell us anything definite about the upper levels of Latinity in the early Anglo-Saxon and Irish churches, since the choice of language may have been influenced by the presence of less learned participants, but Bede also implies that it would be unsurprising for an Anglo-Saxon in an Irish monastery to learn Irish, suggesting the prevalence of vernacular languages in Irish and English ecclesiastical discourse at this time. Thus although British Latinity may have been in better shape in Bede's time than surviving texts would suggest, this may not have much helped British clerics to advance their interests.

'On the Etymology of Adel' is a light-hearted tour of the historiography of the etymology of Adel, a parish in North Leeds, resisting the twentieth-century concensus of Old English adela ('filth, dirt, dirty place; foul filth; bilge-water' and possibly even 'sewer, privy') in favour of *Eada-lēah ('Eada's lea'), suggested in 1910 by F. W. Moorman.

' "Þur sarriþu þursa trutin": Monster-Fighting and Medicine in Early Medieval Scandinavia' seeks evidence among our extensive Scandinavian mythological texts for an issue which they seldom discuss explicitly: the conceptualisation and handling of illness and healing. Its core evidence is two runic texts (the Canterbury Rune-Charm and the Sigtuna Amulet) which conceptualise illness as a þurs ('ogre, monster'). The article discusses the semantics of þurs, arguing that illness and supernatural beings could be conceptualised as identical in medieval Scandinavia. This provides a basis for arguing that myths in which gods and heroes fight monsters provided a paradigm for the struggle with illness. The article proceeds, more speculatively, to use the Eddaic poem Skírnismál and the Finnish Riiden synty as the basis for arguing that one cause of illness could be the transgression of moral norms. Abstract in Spanish.

'The Orality of a Silent Age: The Place of Orality in Medieval Studies' uses a brief survey of current work on Old English poetry as the point of departure for arguing that although useful, the concepts of orality and literacy have, in medieval studies, been extended further beyond their literal referents of spoken and written communication than is heuristically useful. Recent emphasis on literate methods and contexts for the writing of our surviving Anglo-Saxon poetry, in contradistinction to the previous emphasis on oral ones, provides the basis for this criticism. Despite a significant amount of revisionist work, the concept of orality remains something of a vortex into which a range of only party related issues have been sucked: authorial originality/communal property; impromptu composition/meditated composition; authorial and audience alienation/immediacy. The relevance of orality to these issues is not in dispute; the problem is that they do not vary along specifically oral/literate axes. The article suggests that this is symptomatic of a wider modernist discourse in medieval studies whereby modern, literate society is (implicitly) contrasted with medieval, oral society: the extension of the orality/literacy axis beyond its literal reference has to some extent facilitated the perpetuation of an earlier contrast between primitivity and modernity which deserves still to be questioned and disputed. Pruning back our conceptions of the oral and the literate to their stricter denotations, we might hope to see more clearly what areas of medieval studies would benefit from alternative interpretations.

'The Etymology and Meanings of Eldritch' argues against the traditional derivation of eldritch from Old English *ælf-rīce ('elf' + 'dominion, sphere of influence'), arguing that the etymology is rather *æl-rīce~el-rīce, the first element meaning 'foreign, strange; from elsewhere', and the whole therefore meaning 'other world'. The key evidence is the variant spellings of eldritch in Older Scots texts cannot regularly be accommodated by *ælf- but can be accomodated by the prefix *æl-~el-. The article develops this point by showing that the putative origin of eldritch in ælf- seems to have influenced the definitions of eldritch given both in the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and in more recent scholarship: its connotations of elves and elvishness have in some circumstances been overplayed, and the more general meaning of 'otherworldly' is to be preferred.

'Glosses, Gaps and Gender: The Rise of Female Elves in Anglo-Saxon Culture' addresses the fact that it is difficult to detect lexical change within Old English, since most of our texts derive from a relatively short period, but lexical change can afford valuable insights into cultural change. The paper identifies changes in the semantics of the Old English word ælf ('elf') through a rigorous analysis of two textual traditions in which Old English words based on ælf are used to gloss Latin words for nymphs. Around the eighth century, it appears that Old English had no close equivalent to words for the supernatural, feminine and generally unthreatening nymphs: words for supernatural females denoted martial, monstrous or otherwise dangerous beings, while ælf seems not to have denoted females--at least not with sufficient salience to be used as a gloss for words for nymphs. Glossators instead found ways of altering ælf's gender in order to create a vernacular word for nymphs. By the eleventh century, however, things had changed, and ælf had come to have the female denotation which was to prove prominent in Middle English. Tracing these lexical changes allows us to trace changes in Anglo-Saxon non- Christian belief-systems, and implicitly in Anglo-Saxon gendering more generally.

'Turning your Coursework into Articles' discusses how undergraduate and master's-level coursework can be developed into academic articles. The piece begins by addressing some practical questions about publishing coursework--about whether and where students should try to publish. It then focuses on the writing itself--at how writer-centred coursework differs from reader-centred articles, and how professional-level writing is formatted, with a couple of hints about content.

'Constructing Anglo-Saxon Sanctity: Tradition, Innovation and Saint Guthlac' develops the unique opportunities afforded by the hagiography surrounding the Anglo-Saxon saint Guthlac for investigating the place of saints' cults in Anglo-Saxon society. Guthlac was one of England's first home-grown saints, and enjoyed a commensurate prominence in Anglo-Saxon culture. Besides being the subject of some of England's earliest Latin hagiography, Guthlac is the only native saint to have received hagiography in the form of Old English poetry. Moreover, while the majority of Old English poetry was closely based on Latin sources, the long poem Guthlac A was not. The article focuses on this unusual poem, examining its combination of an Anglo-Saxon subject and medium with a Christian genre to gain access to Anglo-Saxon images of saints which are usually hidden from us. Guthlac's rite of passage is a struggle with the demons who inhabit his hermitage in the East Anglian fens; significantly, although this phase of his life is prominent in all texts, Guthlac A focuses on it almost exclusively. The article analyses this portrayal of Guthlac as a monster-fighter in the context of other Anglo-Saxon handlings of monster-fighting, principally Beowulf. Guthlac A can be seen to invert traditional Anglo-Saxon imagery and diction of monster-fighting, to emphasise that Guthlac's peaceful invocations of God and saints are superior to traditional physical violence. Likewise, the poem situates the conflict in a space whose traditional connotations are shown by other Anglo-Saxon evidence to have been of heathenism and banishment--a situation which Guthlac overcomes, to redefine the meanings of traditional topoi in a Christian world.

'The Evidence for maran, the Anglo-Saxon "Nightmares" ' examines the Old English word mære, the etymon of nightmare, and its variants. These are attested reasonably often, and may afford us rare insights into the nature of traditional beliefs in early medieval culture. However, a number of questions arise from our basic Old English data which I address in order to underpin future efforts to interpret the Old English material. I tackle four main issues:

The wider import of beliefs concerning maran and similar beings remains to be identified, but we stand a better chance of establishing it with the clarification of our data provided here.

'The P-Celtic Place-Names of North-East England and South-East Scotland', by Bethany Fox with an interactive distribution map implemented by Alaric Hall, focuses on the region between the Firth of Forth to the north and the River Tees to the south, to gather together those names identified by past scholars as possibly p-Celtic, providing a new assessment as to whether each contains p-Celtic elements. With the identification of eighty-four names probably containing p-Celtic elements, and forty-five further possible examples, it emerges that p-Celtic toponyms in the region are more numerous than has usually been assumed. Moreover, there is reason to think that the distribution of p-Celtic names is historically significant: generally speaking, the distribution of the earliest identifiable Old English place-names (those ending in -hām and -ingahām) is mutually exclusive of p-Celtic names. The most obvious interpretation of the evidence in this study is a synthesis of mass-migration and elite-takeover models. Large-scale Anglian cultural influence, and therefore implicitly settlement, seems likely along the major river valleys south of the Lammermuir and Moorfoot hills (following the Tyne, Tees, Alne and Tweed), with slower diffusion of influence elsewhere. It seems likely that p-Celtic speech survived longest in the area between the Lammermuir and Moorfoot hills, a supposition supported by archaeological evidence. The study takes the opportunity of online publication to develop new strategies for presenting place-name evidence, including a full appendix of data hyperlinked to the main text, and an interactive distribution map.

'Folk-healing, Fairies and Witchcraft: The Trial of Stein Maltman, Stirling 1628' is the first full publication of a trial record which is particularly valuable in the history of Scottish popular belief, that of Stein Maltman, of Leckie, about twelve kilometres to the West of Stirling. Although our text has itself been edited from the original transcripts of depositions and confessions by the seventeenth-century scribe, it provides important information about folk-healing practices, maleficium, and the role of fairies in the construction of illness in early modern Scotland. The case seems to be representative of endemic rather than epidemic witchcraft-trials, and the mentions of fairies attributed to Stein and which he is himself recorded to make may closely reflect his professional construction of healing practices.

'Elves on the Brain: Chaucer, Old English, and Elvish' discusses the precise meanings of the Middle English word elvish. These have attracted a fair amount of commentary before, because Chaucer, through the mouthpiece of Harry Bailey, described himself as elvish in the prologue to The Tale of Sir Thopas. Richard Firth Green has recently emphasised that to understand the reference in the prologue to Sir Thopas, we must also consider the semantics of elvish elsewhere in Chaucer's work, in lines 751 and 842 of The Canon's Yeoman's Tale. He argued further that Chaucer's usage of elvish is liable to have drawn connotations from the meanings of its root elf--and ably elucidated these. However, some useful evidence for the meanings of elvish has been passed over. Besides a revealing Middle English attestation, Old English attests once to elvish's etymon ælfisc, as well as to another adjectival derivative of the elf-word, ylfig. The evidence of these Old English words is more complex, but also more revealing, than has been realised. Taken together, this new evidence affords new perspectives on the history of elvish, on what it may have meant to Chaucer, and on the significance of elves in medieval English-speaking cultures. In particular, while Chaucer doubtless kept elves in mind as he used elvish, in ways which Green's research illuminates, the word seems certainly in Old and Middle English to have had developed senses not strictly related to its literal meaning, along the lines of 'delusory', while the apparent sense of elvish in the prologue to Sir Thopas, 'abstracted', finds parallels in the Old English ylfig.

'Hygelac's Only Daughter: A Present, a Potentate and a Peaceweaver in Beowulf'. The women of Beowulf have enjoyed extensive study in recent years, but one has escaped the limelight: the only daughter of Hygelac, king of the Geats and Beowulf's lord. But though this daughter is mentioned only fleetingly, a close examination of the circumstances of her appearance and the words in which it is couched affords new perspectives on the role of women in Beowulf and on the nature of Hygelac's kingship. Hygelac's only daughter is given as part of a reward to Hygelac's retainer Eofor for the slaying of the Swedish king Ongentheow. Beowulf refers to this reward with the unique noun ofermaðmas, traditionally understood to mean 'great treasures'. I argue, however, that ofermaðmas at least potentially means 'excessive treasures'. Developing this reading implies a less favourable assessment of Hygelac's actions here than has previously been inferred. I argue further that the excess in Hygelac's treasure-giving derives specifically from his gift of his only daughter, and the consequent loss to the Geats of the possibility of a diplomatic marriage through which they might end their feud with the Swedes. The article offers new perspectives on the semantics of ofermaðum, on Hygelac's kingship, and on women in Beowulf.

'Are there any Elves in Anglo-Saxon Place-names?' reassesses those place-names so far etymologised to contain ælf, the Old English etymon of elf, to establish which if any can reliably be used in research on Anglo-Saxon beliefs. The key problem for identifying ælf in place-names lies in its phonological similarity to Anglo-Saxon personal names, at three levels: in place-names, etymological dithematic personal names like were sometimes reduced to forms which resemble forms of ælf; there was probably a simplex personal name ælf which can also appear in placenames; and there was likewise possibly a simplex personal name ælfa. Additional difficulties are caused by the possibility that some place-names which might plausibly derive from Anglo-Saxon ones containing ælf were in fact coined in the Middle English period. However, although no ælf-place-name can be identified for Anglo-Saxon England with complete confidence, two reasonably reliable examples are identified: ælfrucge ('elf-ridge') in Kent and ylfing dene ('elf-place valley') in Berkshire. Moreover, other names which could plausibly derive from ælf also tend to show second elements denoting hills and valleys. In this, they are similar to place-names containing names of pagan gods, but unlike names denoting monstrous supernatural beings (which tend to be associated with bodies of water and smaller depressions). Though conclusions must be tentative, our evidence hints at wider roles for beliefs in supernatural beings in the construction of Anglo-Saxon space.

'Calling the Shots: The Old English Remedy Gif hors ofscoten sie and Anglo-Saxon "Elf-Shot" ' re-examines the evidence for the concept of 'elf-shot' in Anglo-Saxon England, a concept prominent in the secondary literature on Anglo-Saxon medicine and magic. A major text for those claiming to find 'elf-shot' is a medical remedy Gif hors ofscoten sie ('If a horse be ofscoten'), which mentions elves (ylfe). I argue, however, that ofscoten merely means something like 'badly pained, suffering pains in the torso region', and indeed that the text's earliest editor, Cockayne, realised this, but that his translation 'elf-shot' has since been misinterpreted. I demonstrate that the remedy considers ylfe to be only one possible source of the ailment, and that they appear in a note which is probably an addition to the text. There is no convincing evidence for how they caused the ailment. Various other Old English remedies for ofscoten or gescoten animals which do not mention ylfe have been assumed to attest to 'elf-shot', but my arguments show that this reasoning is faulty, and that what seemed like a large body of evidence is in fact a very small one. However, I argue that the word ælfsogoða, hitherto little understood, also means 'pain in the torso region caused by elves'. This shows that the association of ofscoten with ylfe in Gif hors ofscoten sie is paralleled elsewhere in Old English and may have been well-established.

'Getting Shot of Elves: Healing, Witchcraft and Fairies in the Scottish Witchcraft Trials' re-examines the evidence of the Scottish witchcraft trials for beliefs associated by scholars with 'elf-shot'. Some supposed evidence for elf-shot is dismissed, but other material illuminates the interplay between illness, healing and fairy-lore in early modern Scotland, and the relationships of these beliefs to witchcraft itself. In all, I accept ten printed trials to pertain meaningfully to elf-shot in some sense. This is a small corpus, though widely spread geographically. Despite the small sample, some patterns are apparent. It emerges that the schot of elf-schot denotes sharp pains rather than projectiles in our early evidence, and that compounds of elf with words for ailments--such as elf-schot (noun and past participle) and elf-grippit--occur in or imply narratives about members of human communities healing harm probably thought to be done by fairies. By contrast, four of the five trials mentioning elf-arrow-heidis concern their use by human witches in maleficium. The differences in vocabulary in the trials reflect differences in their narratives. I have interpreted material from as early as 1576 to suggest a system in which healers acted from within the community against illness caused by an external, more powerful group, the fairies. Meanwhile, the use of elf-arrow-heidis in witches' maleficium is attested from 1590 (with reference to 1576-77). These two systems for the aetiology of illness--fairies and witches--must have co-existed for centuries, but the evidence hints that over time, fairy-beliefs were incorporated into witchcraft-beliefs. The later accounts reorientate the construction of supernatural disease from deriving primarily from outside the community to deriving primarily from within: fairies, it can be argued, which in older belief-systems were an independent, external threat, became in these trials an adjunct of witches. By paying close attention to the language of our texts we can revise old assumptions about the character of Scottish beliefs at the time of the witchcraft trials. By situating this linguistic evidence in its narrative contexts, and adducing appropriate interpretative models, we can tell stories about Scottish fairy-belief quite different from those which dominate the narrative sources. These provide convincing, if only occasional, alternative perspectives on the culture in which the Scottish witchcraft trials took place.

'Changing Style and Changing Meaning: The Medieval Redactions of Heiðreks saga' addresses a question of growing prominence in saga-studies: the significance of fornaldarsögur in the medieval Icelandic context. This approach is useful both to appreciate most fornaldarsögur as literature, since their literary concerns are usually much removed from those of professional literary critics, and for using them to illuminate medieval Icelandic thought and society. Heiðreks saga provides a case-study for this, since it survives in three medieval redactions: an early text, R, a revision thereof, U, and a third version which makes use of both R and U-type texts, H (preserved in Hauksbók).

These analyses provide evidence for the theory that fornaldarsögur were important to Icelanders as statements of their cultural vitality in the face of political and cultural pressure from mainland Scandinavia (and so also that they were not merely late, poor, 'popular' stories), but also suggest numerous subtleties behind this reading, with implications for our understanding of saga style and genre.

'The Images and Structure of The Wife's Lament' finds that despite the extensive critical writing on this difficult poem, there is a substantial corpus of medieval evidence which bears usefully on its interpretation and which has yet to be considered. One set of evidence is derived from images of landscape on the Franks Casket and in Middle English, the Bible, and the Old Icelandic poetic Edda which are similar to those in The Wife's Lament. The Wife's Lament is unusual among Old English poems in providing two detailed descriptions of landscapes, and to interpret these as some vague pathetic fallacy does not account for their distinctiveness. The analogues adduced instead suggest fairly precise connotations for both locations: both are Hellish, and the location of the speaker herself, in a cave beneath an oak tree, has fairly close analogues in the poetic Edda, where the motif is associated with (female) heathenish monsters, and more general analogues suggesting connotations of sites of pagan worship. The second corpus of evidence derives from the manuscript punctuation of The Wife's Lament. While this is hard to interpret, the long debates over sentence division and paragraphing in the poem justify a close consideration of this important and long-neglected evidence. Careful consideration of punctuation in conjunction with rhetorical patterning in the poem produces a strong case for resolving certain disputes, and suggests a verse-paragraph structure of 5, 12, 12, 12 and 12 lines. The implications of these analyses are combined in a literary reading of the poem which seeks to take account of its meaning to a Christian Anglo-Saxon audience.

'Old MacDonald had a Fyrm, eo, eo, y: Two Marginal Developments of < eo > in Old and Middle English' uses the new possibilities for linguistic research afforded by the Dictionary of Old English Corpus to help show phonological developments in Old and Middle English. South-Western Middle English texts often show the letter u for Old English eo, which had normally become /ø(:)/ or /e(:)/. Despite the general likelihood that u should represent /y(:)/ (through the influence of Anglo-Norman spelling), it has been interpreted throughout the twentieth century as /ø(:)/. This interpretation is shown to be wrong by three means:

Alaric concludes that /i(:)u/ was maintained in (low-prestige) dialects of south-western Old English, and was becoming /y(:)/ by c. 950AD. However, /beor/ and later /eor/ were becoming /yr/ in a more prestigious dialect from at least c. 900AD.

'Gwŷr y Gogledd? Some Icelandic Analogues to Branwen Ferch Lŷr' seeks to situate this most popular of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi in a medieval literary context other than the Celtic and folkloric ones through which the Four Branches are usually approached. Previous arguments for Germanic influence on Branwen Ferch Lŷr are criticised. However, observing growing evidence for Scandinavian cultural involvement in early medieval Wales, the article argues for the likelihood of mutual influence between Branwen and Scandinavian literatures by expounding a dense group of similarities between Branwen and the Old Icelandic Hrólfs saga kraka. The literary ramifications of this association are pursued, and are intended to stand whether or not a direct connection between Welsh and Norse texts is accepted. The character and behaviour of Efnisien, who is the character who causes most of Branwen's plot developments, have hitherto been considered inconsistent and perplexing by critics. Here, his character and role is approached by comparing him with the Scandinavian literary figure of the Óðinn-hero, with whom he shares most of his characteristics. The medieval cultural and literary context which this reading provides shows Efnisien's actions and character to be focused and internally logical. Branwen emerges in consequence as a more tighly and effectively constructed narrative, while interesting implications are raised for the history of the Scandinavians in Wales, and for critical approaches to medieval Welsh literature.

microsoft windows 7