The Life Course in Old English Poetry

the life course in old english poetry book cover

In the first book-length study of the whole lifespan in Old English verse, Harriet Soper reveals how poets depicted varied paths through life, including their staging of entanglements between human life courses and those of the nonhuman or more-than-human. While Old English poetry sometimes suggests that uniform patterns shape each life, paralleling patristic traditions of the ages of man, it also frequently disrupts a sense of steady linearity through the life course in striking ways, foregrounding moments of sudden upheaval over smooth continuity, contingency over predictability, and idiosyncrasy over regularity. Advancing new readings of a diverse range of Old English poems, Soper draws on an array of supporting contexts and theories to illuminate these texts, unearthing their complex and fascinating depictions of ageing through life. 

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