Inhabited Spaces: Anglo-Saxon Constructions of Place
Published: January 2017© 2017
280 Pages, 6.50 x 9.00 x 1.00 in, 1 b&w illustration
We tend to think of early medieval people as unsophisticated about geography because their understandings of space and place often differed from ours, yet theirs were no less complex. Anglo-Saxons conceived of themselves as living at the centre of a cosmos that combined order and plenitude, two principles in a constant state of tension.
In Inhabited Spaces, Nicole Guenther Discenza examines a variety of Anglo-Latin and Old English texts to shed light on Anglo-Saxon understandings of space. Anglo-Saxon models of the universe featured a spherical earth at the centre of a spherical universe ordered by God. They sought to shape the universe into knowable places, from where the earth stood in the cosmos, to the kingdoms of different peoples, and to the intimacy of the hall. Discenza argues that Anglo-Saxon works both construct orderly place and illuminate the limits of human spatial control.
1 Earth’s Place in the Cosmos
2 England, the Mediterranean, and Beyond
3 Recentring: The North and England’s Place
4 Fruitful Wastes in Beowulf, Guthlac A, and Andreas
5 Halls and Cities as Locuses of Civilization and Sin
"…a fascinating literary analysis…"T. Pickles, University of Chester, The English Historical Review, vol 134 no 568
"Inhabited Spaces provides a new way of thinking about Anglo-Saxon notions of geography and cosmology. It is learned, lucid, and broadly humane in its outlook, a pleasure to read and a significant contribution to the field."Roy Liuzza, Department of English, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
"Nicole Discenza seamlessly and creatively weaves together prior arguments and new analyses regarding Anglo-Saxon spaces in her elegantly written work Inhabited Spaces."Lori Garner, Department of English, Rhodes College