Joinings: Compound Words in Old English Literature
The first comprehensive study of the use of compound words in Old English poetry, homilies, and philosophy, Joinings explores the effect of compounds on style, pace, clarity, and genre in Anglo-Saxon vernacular literature. Jonathan Davis-Secord demonstrates how compounds affect the pacing of passages in Beowulf, creating slow-motion narrative at moments of significant violence; how their structural complexity gives rhetorical emphasis to phrases in the homilies of Wulfstan; and how they help to mix quotidian and elevated diction in Cynewulf’s Juliana and the Old English translations of Boethius. His work demonstrates that compound words were the epitome of Anglo-Saxon vernacular verbal art, combining grammar, style, and culture in a manner unlike any other feature of Old English.
- Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
- World Rights
- Page Count: 272 pages
- Dimensions: 6.4in x 0.9in x 9.3in
‘This book offers new ways of thinking about how compounds are used and it will inform future study. It is a welcome addition to the field.’
The Review of English Studies October 2016
‘Jonathan Davis-Secord has woven a rich tapestry from such seemingly uninspiring threads as compounds, and his richly textured book is sure to please a range of scholars from a variety of perspectives.’
Anglia vol 135:2017
‘An original, stimulating, and impressively erudite exploration of the role of compounds in Old English literary culture… This learned and engaging book opens up several new approaches to the study of a key feature of Old English verbal art and deserves to find a wide readership.’
Speculum, vol 92:04:2017
‘In this book Davis-Secord brings to bear new and promising modes of analysis in a wide-ranging and provocative discussion.’
Parergon vol 34:02:2017
"This thoroughly researched book opens up a wide variety of new approaches to familiar texts and will likely prove an essential resource for scholars of Old English literature, rhetoric, and culture."
Courtney Catherine Barajas, The University of Texax at Austin
University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018
"Delving masterfully into a central feature of Anglo-Saxon aesthetics–simple juxtaposition–this book elucidates how compounding in Old English at the lexical level enriches the literary products of that language. Latin and Old Norse theories of linguistic art give the discussion a broad, early-medieval context, and modern linguistic and neuropsychological theories of compounding across a range of languages root it in the present day. The result is a significant and captivating contribution both to linguistic theory and to cultural studies."
Robert E. Bjork, Foundation Professor of English and Director of ACMRS (the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies), Arizona State University. Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.
"Joinings is a great piece of scholarship. While there are other works dealing with compounds in Old English texts, none is as comprehensive as the present study. This engaging and well written book makes a very significant contribution to the field."
Philip A. Shaw, School of English, University of Leicester
Author InformationJonathan Davis-Secord is an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of New Mexico.
Table of contents
1. Introduction: Connecting Grammar, Style, and Culture
2. Compounds as Translation Tools
3. Compound Interest
4. Compound Discourses in the Old English Boethius and Juliana
5. Controlling Pace in Prose: Wulfstan’s Old English Homilies
6. Controlling Pace in Poetry: Beowulf
7. Conclusion: Ubi Est Ælfric?
Subjects and Courses