Double Agents

Double Agents: Women and Clerical Culture in Anglo-Saxon England

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Double Agents
    Book Description:

    First printed in 2001 by the University of Pennsylvania Press, this book has been out of print for several years and is highly sought after by researchers in the field of Medieval cultural studies. Double Agents was the first book length study of women in Anglo-Saxon written culture that took on board the insights of contemporary critical theory, especially feminist theory, in order to elucidate the complex challenges of both the absence and presence of women in the historical record.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2232-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Editors’ Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Clare and Gillian
  5. Acknowledgements, 2001
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    This is a book about women and about Anglo-Saxon England. But first we need to conceptualize the categories of women and of Anglo-Saxon England; both require a fundamental examination of the methodologies by which women and historical periods are understood. For this reason, this is not a book about womenin: women inBeowulf, women in other canonical texts of Anglo-Saxon studies (literary or historical). It is not a book about women as exceptional individuals, whether these be saints, queens, abbesses, or women who have otherwise sufficiently distinguished themselves to make it into the cultural record. Nor do we claimto...

  8. 1 Patristic Maternity: Bede, Hild and Cultural Procreation
    (pp. 19-55)

    In this chapter, we discuss two events in Old English literary history, both of which originate with Bede in hisEcclesiastical History. According to Bede, Hild is worthy of memory at least in part because, as celebrated Abbess and Mother of the dual foundation of Streonæshalch or Whitby, she created an environment of spiritual instruction that produced five bishops. Twentieth-century historians, following Bede, also remember Whitby as a virtual ‘nursery of bishops’, to borrow, as others have, Frank M. Stenton’s evocative phrase of maternity.¹ The second event recalls an even better known literary moment when Bede bequeathes his society, and...

  9. 2 Orality, Femininity and the Disappearing Trace in Early Anglo-Saxon England
    (pp. 56-100)

    These next two chapters started out as one, but grew longer, and ever more central to our project, as we moved through the various stages of collaborative writing. While we realize that not all readers will read in an exactly linear fashion, nor even from cover to cover, we do urge that these two chapters be read in sequence. As we said in the Introduction, our argument and our choice of material are apposite and continuous.

    When we began asking questions about Hild’s absence from Bede’s account of the ‘birth’ of Christian poetry in Chapter 1, intending to use this...

  10. 3 Literacy and Gender in Later Anglo-Saxon England
    (pp. 101-148)

    This chapter takes up three issues central to Chapter 2 and explores them in relation to evidence from the later Anglo-Saxon period. We begin with the world of the law, examining in detail one particular lawsuit from Hereford as a means of entering into the complex evidence of legal documents, land-charters and female agency from this period. In so doing, we return to and extend our thoughts on the relation between female agency, naming, social role and class on the one hand, and literacy and orality on the other. Naming is a hermeneutic issue as well as a social one,...

  11. 4 Figuring the Body: Gender, Performance, Hagiography
    (pp. 149-203)

    We have traced the powerful dynamics at work in the representation of women’s participation in religious and secular culture by paying particular attention to the language of that cultural evidence. Indeed, as we note in our Introduction, we take language very seriously. This has led us to explore in considerable detail women’s relation to orality and literacy throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. As we explore women’s relation to voice and text, however, we argue that it is equally important to attend to the rhetorical forms by which women and the feminine are represented in the period. Where there’s a voice, there’s...

  12. 5 Pressing Hard on the ‘Breasts’ of Scripture: Metaphor and the Symbolic
    (pp. 204-230)

    From Hild as spiritual mother to Mary of Egypt as both holy harlot and mother church, we have paid attention to the operations of gendered metaphor in specific texts, both in Latin and English and from the early, middle and late periods of Anglo-Saxon England. In this chapter, we engage more directly with the general process of metaphorization and its gendering, as well as with some particular metaphors as these might be culturally enacted as well as textually traced. Our purpose here is to explore at the levels of metaphoric and cultural process the liaison between reference and representation evident...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-248)
  14. Index
    (pp. 249-266)