Weaving Words and Binding Bodies: The Poetics of Human Experience in Old English Literature

By Megan Cavell

© 2016

References to weaving and binding are ubiquitous in Anglo-Saxon literature. Several hundred instances of such imagery occur in the poetic corpus, invoked in connection with objects, people, elemental forces, and complex abstract concepts.

Weaving Words and Binding Bodies presents the first comprehensive study of weaving and binding imagery through intertextual analysis and close readings of Beowulf, riddles, the poetry of Cynewulf, and other key texts. Megan Cavell highlights the prominent use of weaving and binding in previously unrecognized formulas, collocations, and type-scenes, shedding light on important tropes such as the lord-retainer “bond” and the gendered role of “peace-weaving” in Anglo-Saxon society. Through the analysis of metrical, rhetorical, and linguistic features and canonical and neglected texts in a wide range of genres, Weaving Words and Binding Bodies makes an important contribution to the ongoing study of Anglo-Saxon poetics.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Illustrations: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004181

  • PUBLISHED MAR 2016

    From: $55.50

    Regular Price: $74.00

    ISBN 9781442637221
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2016

    From: $55.50

    Regular Price: $74.00

Quick Overview

Weaving Words and Binding Bodies presents the first comprehensive study of weaving and binding imagery through intertextual analysis and close readings of Beowulf, riddles, the poetry of Cynewulf, and other key texts.

Weaving Words and Binding Bodies: The Poetics of Human Experience in Old English Literature

By Megan Cavell

© 2016

References to weaving and binding are ubiquitous in Anglo-Saxon literature. Several hundred instances of such imagery occur in the poetic corpus, invoked in connection with objects, people, elemental forces, and complex abstract concepts.

Weaving Words and Binding Bodies presents the first comprehensive study of weaving and binding imagery through intertextual analysis and close readings of Beowulf, riddles, the poetry of Cynewulf, and other key texts. Megan Cavell highlights the prominent use of weaving and binding in previously unrecognized formulas, collocations, and type-scenes, shedding light on important tropes such as the lord-retainer “bond” and the gendered role of “peace-weaving” in Anglo-Saxon society. Through the analysis of metrical, rhetorical, and linguistic features and canonical and neglected texts in a wide range of genres, Weaving Words and Binding Bodies makes an important contribution to the ongoing study of Anglo-Saxon poetics.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Illustrations: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘This scholarly, thorough treatment of imagery offers new insights into Old English poetic contemplation of human experience.’


    M.B. Busbee
    Choice Magazine vol 54:05:2017

    ‘This study of binding, unbinding, and weaving terminology is stimulating in the course of its many surprises… There is much to recommend in this latest addition to the Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series.’


    John M. Hill
    Mediaevistik vol 29:2016

    Weaving words will be a catalyst for future research in many different areas. It will be a valuable reading for anyone interested in gaining new insights from early literature.’


    Emily Thornbury
    Speculum vol 93:02:2018

    "In using poetic style to interrogate the themes of weaving and binding in Old English literature, Megan Cavell’s book Weaving Words and Binding Bodies relates in a limited way to recent work on textiles while primarily concerning itself with a more traditional, philological approach to literary scholarship."


    Tiffany Beechy, University of Colorado Boulder
    University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

    "Weaving Words and Binding Bodies is a brilliant, thoroughgoing study of weaving and binding in Anglo-Saxon poems, together with an analysis of related material culture, medieval technology, and concepts such as slavery and servitude."


    Mercedes Salvador-Bello, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Seville

    "A fascinating examination of the interrelated images of weaving and binding in Old English verse, Weaving Words and Binding Bodies reveals an Anglo-Saxon cultural preoccupation with the conceptual nexus of construction and constriction."


    Miranda Wilcox, Department of English, Brigham Young University
  • Author Information

    Megan Cavell is a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of English Studies at Durham University.

  • Table of contents

    Construction and Constriction: Introducing Human Experience in Old English Poetry

    Part I – Webs and Rings: Experiencing Objects

    Chapter 1: The Material Context of Weaving

    Chapter 2: The Woven Mail-Coat

    Chapter 3: The Material Context of Structural Binding

    Part II – Ties and Chains: Experiencing Bondage 

    Chapter 4: Binding in Nature

    Chapter 5: Imprisonment and Hell

    Chapter 6: Slavery and Servitude

    Part III – Patterns and Nets: Experiencing the Internal and the Abstract

    Chapter 7: The Body and Mind

    Chapter 8: Language and Knowledge

    Chapter 9: Creation, Magic and Fate

    Chapter 10: Peace

    Weaving and Binding: Conclusions on Human Experience and World View

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