Early British Literature

Topics: Life

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Last updated: May 4, 2019

Caedmon’s Hymn
Bede, 7-8 Century

The Wanderer, Wulf & Eadwacer, Wife’s Lament
Anonymous, 10th Century

Beowulf
Anonymous, b/w 8th-11th century

Dream of the Rood
10th Century, Anonymous

Piers Plowman
Landland, 14th Century

Canterbury Tales
Chaucer, 14th century

Lanval
Marie de France, 12th century

Alliteration
Repetition of initial consonant sounds

Caesura
A natural pause or break in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of the line.

Comitatus
Bond of loyalty between warriors and their king.

elegy
A lyric poem that laments the dead.

Epic
A long narrative poem telling of a hero’s deeds

Epic Simile
A simile developed over several lines of verse

Gnomic
related to short, wise, witty sayings

Kenning
A device employed in Anglo-Saxon poetry in which the name of a thing is replaced by one of its functions or qualities, as in “ring-giver” for king and “whale-road” for ocean.

Litote
A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite

Scop
Poet in Old English

Sutton Hoo
of two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries of the 6th century and early 7th century, one of which contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of artifacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance.

Thame
England’s principal river

ubi Sunt
“Where have all the warriors gone?” A theme of old english laments. Life is short. Longing for a happier past.

wergeld
‘man money,’ the amount of money payed in compensation for wronging that person, it differed on how valuable that individual was considered

Cornice
Frame of a story

Exegetical interpretation
critical evaluation of a text to explain meaning; usually the Bible

Fabliau
A short comic tale with a bawdy element, akin to the “dirty story.” Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale contains elements of the fabliau.

Feudalism
A political system in which nobles are granted the use of lands that legally belong to their king, in exchange for their loyalty, military service, and protection of the people who live on the land

4 Senses of Interpretation
Senses of interpreting scripture

Hermeneutics
(n) the study interpretation of literature; the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.

Physiognomy
(n.) – the art of judging human character from facial features

3 Estates Theory
structure socially in Middle Ages; Church, Nobility, Peasantry.

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