Epistolary Acts: Anglo-Saxon Letters and Early English Media

By Jordan Zweck

© 2018

As challenging as it is to imagine how an educated cleric or wealthy lay person in the early Middle Ages would have understood a letter (especially one from God), it is even harder to understand why letters would have so captured the imagination of people who might never have produced, sent, or received letters themselves.

In Epistolary Acts, Jordan Zweck examines the presentation of letters in early medieval vernacular literature, including hagiography, prose romance, poetry, and sermons on letters from heaven, moving beyond traditional genre study to offer a radically new way of conceptualizing Anglo-Saxon epistolarity. Zweck argues that what makes early medieval English epistolarity unique is the performance of what she calls “epistolary acts,” the moments when authors represent or embed letters within vernacular texts. The book contributes to a growing interest in the intersections between medieval studies and media studies, blending traditional book history and manuscript studies with affect theory, media studies, and archive studies.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004474

  • PUBLISHED FEB 2018

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

    ISBN 9781487501006
  • PUBLISHED FEB 2018

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

Quick Overview

In Epistolary Acts, Jordan Zweck examines the presentation of letters in early medieval vernacular literature, including hagiography, prose romance, poetry, and sermons on letters from heaven, moving beyond traditional genre study to offer a radically new way of conceptualizing Anglo-Saxon epistolarity.

Epistolary Acts: Anglo-Saxon Letters and Early English Media

By Jordan Zweck

© 2018

As challenging as it is to imagine how an educated cleric or wealthy lay person in the early Middle Ages would have understood a letter (especially one from God), it is even harder to understand why letters would have so captured the imagination of people who might never have produced, sent, or received letters themselves.

In Epistolary Acts, Jordan Zweck examines the presentation of letters in early medieval vernacular literature, including hagiography, prose romance, poetry, and sermons on letters from heaven, moving beyond traditional genre study to offer a radically new way of conceptualizing Anglo-Saxon epistolarity. Zweck argues that what makes early medieval English epistolarity unique is the performance of what she calls “epistolary acts,” the moments when authors represent or embed letters within vernacular texts. The book contributes to a growing interest in the intersections between medieval studies and media studies, blending traditional book history and manuscript studies with affect theory, media studies, and archive studies.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "Jordan Zweck brings media studies to bear on early medieval texts in a way that is nothing short of illuminating. Incredibly well conceived, Epistolary Acts showcases Zweck’s skills as a philologist and close reader, and there is a great deal in these chapters that provides new insights on canonical and lesser-known texts alike. This book should garner broad appeal among medievalists, early or late, for its refreshing, original, and thought-provoking treatment of epistolarity in Anglo-Saxon England."


    David F. Johnson, Department of English, Florida State University

    "Jordan Zweck's Epistolary Acts is a wonderful example of how Anglo-Saxonists can use contemporary media theory to improve our understanding of Anglo-Saxon culture. In this well-written and detailed book, Zweck demonstrates convincingly that understanding how contemporary audiences understood ‛the letter’ can greatly enrich our own reading and understanding of these important documents."


    Daniel Paul O'Donnell, Department of English and University Library, University of Lethbridge
  • Author Information

    Jordan Zweck is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Table of contents

    Abbreviations

    Introduction: Epistolary Acts and The Husband’s Message

    Chapter One: Reconstructing the Anglo-Saxon ars dictaminis: Form, Vocabulary, and Immediacy

    Chapter Two: Spreading the Word: the Sunday Letter, Mass Communication, and the Self-Replicating Document

    Chapter Three: Messengers, Materiality, and Transmission in the Old English Apollonius of Tyre, Letter of Abgar, and Mary of Egypt

    Chapter Four: Bodies of Record: Witnessing, Memory, and Erasure in Ælfric’s Life of Basil and the Anonymous Old English Legend of the Seven Sleepers

    Epilogue: Epistolary Afterlives

    Bibliography

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