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Elizabeth Tyler, "Imperialising Old English: The Battle of Brunanburh"

York Medieval Lecture, K/133, 5:30 pm.

This lecture will use a reading of The Battle of Brunanburh, the first poem to be included in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, to open up how Old English poets drew on imperial models to craft a vision of West Saxon rule over England. Postcolonial theory has transformatively challenged the way we read modern English literature: demanding that we step outside the imperialist position, seeing what was lost in the face of empire, the centrality of imperialism to English identity and critically, that we engage with colonial and postcolonial literary cultures. These theoretical and political imperatives apply equally to Anglo-Saxon literature, which participated in the creation of England, a West Saxon empire.Brunanburhwill be read in its context in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and in light of contemporary poetry in Latin, Old Norse, Welsh and Old High German. The poem’s creation of a multilingual poetics needs to be reimagined in light of West Saxon ambitions for insular dominion.
Editing was completed: 20.11.2018