An oral and cognitive approach to Anglo-Saxon poetry: Association, rhizomes, emotions and performance

Emily E Redman, Purdue University


This dissertation shows Old English poetry as a part of the Anglo-Saxon aesthetic system. It identifies three new areas of Anglo-Saxon aesthetics wherein meaning arises from structure. Chapter One displays the need for a blurring of and bridging between oral and cognitive theories. Chapter Two shows how the rhizome system provides the poetry with memorial content. Chapter Three shows how Old English poetry is embellished with list units via a system of emotional association, and uses Beowulf, Judith, Elena, and many other Old English poems as examples. Chapter Four shows how the emotion inherent in the poetry provides communal and individual catharsis for the Anglo-Saxon audience; it uses Beowulf exclusively and pivots on the performance of Hrothgar. It also expands on the concept of the heart as the center of emotion performance in Old English literature. Although it begins in the established field of Oral Theory, this dissertation contributes new ideas to the burgeoning area of Cognitive Theory as applied to literature, and also the fields of rhetoric and aesthetics.^




Shaun F.D. Hughes, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Literature, Medieval|Literature, Germanic|Literature, English

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