Dr Mark Griffith

My research interests lie entirely in Old English poetry, most particularly in Old English poetic language, register, metre, metrical-grammar, style and rhetoric. With the exception of my contributions to the Fontes project and a little work on Ælfric, all my publications have centred around two main (and to some extent related) questions:

1. What were the poets compelled to do by the rules of their prosody, what licence did they have and where, if at all, were they  free to do as they chose? Probably my principal publication here is my contribution to Godden and Irvine’s edition of The Old English Boethius: (Oxford 2008): the text’s double translation of Boethius’s Metres first into prose and then verse permits unique insight into the operation and development of licence.

2. What are the particular literary merits of the poetry? Although some of the poetry displays overuse of apposition and structures which appear to us awkward or unclear (defects possibly of orality, or evidence of our ideological distance from the period), some of the poems’ qualities have been underestimated, or simply not described. My edition of Judith (Exeter, 1997) was primarily motivated by a desire to show the high quality of its poetry.

On the one hand, therefore, a good deal of what I do is empirical and linguistic or semantic; on the other, it involves a good deal of close reading of the poems and comparison of them. I operate, I suppose, on the lang.-lit. border.

I have just completed articles on the register of the divine voice in Genesis A and on the nature and development of rank in the poetry. With Jane Toswell of the University of Western Ontario I am working on an edition of The OE Metrical Psalms; a preliminary contract has been signed with Univ. of Arizona Press.

Old and Middle English literature; The history and use of the English language.