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Title: Exodus and the literary representations of pilgrimage in Anglo-Saxon England
Author: Burton, Steven Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 3805
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines the literary representations of pilgrimage in Anglo-Saxon England by focusing upon the dense and difficult Old English poem, Exodus, that, since it bridges the vernacular and Latinate literary worlds, provides a lens through which the complex interaction between mimesis and metaphor, as well as the literal and figurative types of exegesis (often conceptualized as the letter and the spirit of scripture), can be analysed in order to reveal a sophisticated literary depiction of the physical act of pilgrimage rooted in Anglo-Saxon religious practice in the landscape. Exodus undoubtedly contains both complex metaphors and literal depictions of biblical events; yet these literal descriptions have often been subsumed into a figurative reading of pilgrimage which emphasizes a person’s interior spiritual progress, allegorized as a Christian’s journey through life towards the heavenly homeland (‘life pilgrimage’), rather than physically journeying to a holy place. The realistic depiction in the poem is generally seen simply to derive from the historical account embedded within the scriptural book of Exodus, where the poetic reinterpretation has been rendered into the idiom and diction of Old English heroic poetry. Few critics have considered whether the Old English Exodus might contain a literary representation of a journey undertaken for religious motives to a holy place rooted in the practices of the contemporary Anglo-Saxon Church (the ‘material practice of pilgrimage’). This thesis proposes that, by revisiting the literary-historical accounts of Anglo-Saxon pilgrimage in Anglo-Latin hagiography and letters, and by introducing the idea of a processional pilgrimage akin to a Rogation as depicted in historiographical writings and anonymous homilies, the Old English Exodus can profitably be read as an example of the material practice of pilgrimage, particularly suited to its putative eighth-century context.
Supervisor: Orchard, Andrew Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; All Souls College ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medieval Latin ; Old English