Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

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My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Studies

 The advance copies of the very lovely volume pictured to the left have just arrived!  The book is A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Studies, a collection of original essays exploring the resources of critical theory for reading Anglo-Saxon texts and vice versa.  Published by Wiley-Blackwell, this collection is been co-edited Jacqueline Stodnick and our own Renée Trilling.

As the book description from the back cover puts it:

"This collection of new and original essays explores the relationship between contemporary critical theory and the study of Anglo-Saxon literature. Core terminology familiar from critical theory, such as ‘ethnicity’, ‘gender’, and ‘agency’, provides a thematic structure in which fresh and revealing perspectives on Anglo-Saxon England come to light. Each essay takes one of these terms as its starting point, offering a brief overview of the term and its use in Anglo-Saxon studies before deploying it as a critical matrix for its own investigation of the Anglo-Saxon period. The collection also explores the question of what contribution Anglo-Saxonists can make to critical theory, and provides new directions for the future of the field."

Anglo-Saxon studies as a field requires of scholars a great deal of hard-won technical expertise.  One needs for starters to be able to read Old English.  And there are myriad other technical challenges associated with learning how to work with the texts and artifacts of such a very old and unfamiliar culture.  Because the technical threshold for participation in the field is so high, emphasis has not always been placed upon the same theoretical and methodological questions that preoccupy other sub-disciplines within English literary studies.  This volume will be important because it will help encourage and facilitate theoretically-informed work in Anglo-Saxon studies henceforward.  At the same time, Anglo-Saxonists are in a good position to recast and challenge some of the theoretical positions forged by specialists in later literatures, so that an Anglo-Saxonists working with the critical vocabulary of postcolonial theory or disability studies is very likely to have new perspectives to offer that can enrich or complicate subsequent theoretical work.  All in all, this looks to be a very generative scholarly book.

I am delighted to see that all of the hard work that went into producing this collection has payed off so handsomely.  Congratulations, Renée!

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