Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yeager on Anglo-Saxon England

From Lawmen to Plowmen: Anglo-Saxon Legal Tradition and the School of LanglandWe missed this one a few years ago. We're posting it now because  there’s more on the LHB about Anglo-Saxonism (like this) than the actual Anglo-Saxons! Stephen Yeager, Concordia University published From Lawmen to Plowmen: Anglo-Saxon Legal Tradition and the School of Langland with the University of Toronto Press in 2014. From the press:

The reappearance of alliterative verse in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries remains one of the most puzzling issues in the literary history of medieval England. In From Lawmen to Plowmen, Stephen M. Yeager offers a fresh, insightful explanation for the alliterative structure of William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the flourishing of alliterative verse satires in late medieval England by observing the similarities between these satires and the legal-homiletical literature of the Anglo-Saxon era.
Unlike Old English alliterative poetry, Anglo-Saxon legal texts and documents continued to be studied long after the Norman Conquest. By comparing Anglo-Saxon charters, sermons, and law codes with Langland’s Piers Plowman and similar poems, Yeager demonstrates that this legal and homiletical literature had an influential afterlife in the fourteenth-century poetry of William Langland and his imitators. His conclusions establish a new genealogy for medieval England’s vernacular literary tradition and offer a new way of approaching one of Middle English’s literary classics.
A blurb:

“Yeager has an interesting and innovative thesis that sheds a great deal of light on the possible connection between Old English legal-homiletic writing and Middle English alliterative verse.” -Joyce Lionarons

And the TOC:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. From Written Record to Memory: A Brief History of Anglo-Saxon Legal-Homiletic Discourse
  • Chapter 2. Leges Cnuti, Sermones Lupi: Homily, Law, and the Legacy of Wulfstan
  • Chapter 3. Ecclesiastical Anglo-Saxonism in Thirteenth-Century Worcester:The First Worcester Fragment and The Proverbs of Alfred
  • Chapter 4. Laȝamon’s Brut: Law, Literature, and the Chronicle-Poem
  • Chapter 5. Defining the Piers Plowman Tradition
  • Chapter 6. Documents, Dreams and the Langlandian Legacy in Mum and the Sothsegger
  • Conclusion

You can read more about the book here.