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Title: Anglo-Saxon conceptions of the inner self : an exploration of tradition and innovation in selected Cynewulfian and Alfredian texts
Author: Ramsden, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 2683 8178
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2008
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The extant vernacular literature of the Anglo-Saxons bears witness to a profound and widespread interest in the inner domain of human experience, as can be seen in the great variety of vocabulary relating to inner faculties and processes and in the diversity of recurring fonnulas, expressions and metaphors depicting the inner life. This thesis examines the remarkably innovative conceptions and expressions of the inner self which we find in a number of Cynewulfian and Alfredian texts. Part One of this thesis considers the diverse approaches to matters of soul, mind and self in a number of disciplines in order to introduce the relevant tenninology and accompanying critical controversies. In Chapter One, I argue for a definition of the inner self as the centre of agency, experience and identity and consider the way in which attention to the inner domain is a useful henneneutic tool for the analysis of anthropological and psychological ideas in the Western intellectual tradition. Chapter Two introduces the relevant Old English vocabulary in reference to divergent critical approaches and the persistent difficulties which we face when trying to analyse AngloSaxon anthropological and psychological ideas in tenns of a rigid soul-body or spiritmatter dualism. Chapter Three examines how attention to the inner domain allows us to appreciate the diversity of vernacular accounts of psychological workings and of differing anthropological schemata in Old English literature. In Parts Two and Three, I examine a number of texts, both in poetry and prose, which explore the inner self in reference to larger ideas about human nature and human purpose and which engage with the implications of Latin Christian anthropological ideas. In Part Two, Chapters Four. Five and Six examine Cynewulfs Christ II, Juliana and Elene respectively. with particular emphasis on the way in which the poet underpins his didactic instructions with of human nature, human types and individual characters. In Part Three, Chapters Seven and Eight explore the systematic approach to psychological and anthropological ideas in the Alfredian 'philosophical' works, namely the Consolation and Soliloquies. respectively. In all of these case studies, I focus on the way in which the internal coherence of ideas in the texts (and in the respective canons) informs the authors' constructions of interiority and in doing so illustrate that a philosophical approach to both poetic and prose texts allows a wider appreciation of innovative thought and expression relevant to human and personal identity in the Anglo-Saxon period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available