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Title: Spatial dialectics : poetic technique and the landscape of Old English verse
Author: Thomas, Daniel
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines the role of spatial representation in Old English poetry. Focusing on the presentation of setting and spatial relationships in narrative poetry, it argues that sensibility towards the creative potential of spatial representation within a conventional tradition constitutes a significant element of Old English poetic technique. It emphasizes the importance of intertextual reading practices which recognize the dialectics of text and tradition underlying spatial representation in individual examples. Chapter one introduces the subject, outlining the relevant critical contexts in which the thesis stands and describing the methodology that is followed in the subsequent chapters. It also describes the connection between the representation of space and critical assumptions regarding vernacular poetic composition. Chapter two focuses on poetic accounts of the angelic rebellion. The presentation of this event as a territorial and spatial conflict establishes a contrast between vertical and horizontal spatial relationships which relates to concerns prevalent throughout the Anglo-Saxon period over conflicting models for power relationships. The prominence of vertical spatial relationships in these accounts serves to legitimize hierarchical power structures. Chapter three considers territorial conflict in Old English battle poetry. Similarities in the use of setting and the construction of a sense of place in these texts suggest the influence of established poetic conventions. However, poetic artistry is evident in the ways in which spatial representation contributes to the wider thematic and artistic concerns of these texts. Chapter four examines poetic representations of the prison. Whilst such representations do partially reflect conceptualizations of the prison current in Anglo-Saxon England, they also demonstrate a deeper interest in the valence of enclosed space. The chapter extends the intertextual approach of the thesis to consider the possibility of direct borrowing between poems. Chapter five clarifies the argument of the thesis regarding the relationship between spatial representation and poetic technique and identifies some directions for further work.
Supervisor: Godden, Malcolm Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; English & Old English language ; English and Old English literature ; Spatial dialectics ; Poetics ; space