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Title:Soul and Body: Reading the Anglo -Saxon Self Through the Vercelli Book
Author(s):Reading, Amity Alissa
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wright, Charles D.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, History of
Abstract:This project explores conceptions of subjectivity in Anglo-Saxon England by analyzing the contents and sources of the Vercelli Book, a tenth-century compilation of Old English religious poetry and prose. The Vercelli Book's selection and arrangement of texts has long perplexed scholars, but close examination of the manuscript reveals that its organizational logic lies in the relationship of its individual pieces to the performance of selfhood. Many of Vercelli's poems and homilies represent subjectivity through 'soul-and-body,' a popular medieval literary motif which describes the soul's physical departure from the body at death and its subsequent addresses to the body in the after-life. Vercelli's soul-and-body texts, together with its exemplary narratives of apostles and saints, construct a model of selfhood that is embodied and performative, predicated upon an interdependent relationship between the soul and the body in which the body has the capacity for salvific action. By examining the ways in which soul-and-body synthesizes theology, popular devotional practice, and literary tradition, this project reveals a version of the Anglo-Saxon self that challenges modern assumptions of a rigid soul/body dualism in medieval culture and religious belief. The soul-and-body motif, in addition to providing an organizing rationale for the Vercelli Book, also provides an essential tool for understanding Anglo-Saxon views of the subject, the body, and the individual.
Issue Date:2009
Description:268 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3399027
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2009

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