Thesis Title: Space, Place and Human Experience in Old English Poetry
Supervisor: Professor Carolyne Larrington
Old English poetry; Old Norse poetry; Germanic philology; textual criticism; manuscript studies; theory of space and place; ecocriticism
My thesis is a study of the representation of human experience of space and place in Old English verse. In the Old English poetic tradition, space is chiefly conceived of in terms of the Creation of the earth, sea, and heavens. Space, whether on land or at sea, is often embraced in pursuit of service to God, though it can also simply delimit one place from another, and within from without. Place, however, is more clearly defined and demarcated from the space around it. The central dwelling place of the hall is an important metonym for human society, though it is ultimately shown to be transient, whilst remote places beyond the confines of the hall are typified by their occupation by solitary figures, be they exiles, hermits, or monstrous beings. My thesis concludes that space and place, though variable and at times unstable, are constitutive in defining human experience across the Old English poetic corpus.