TitleBorders and Bodies in Early Medieval Riddles and Beyond
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 16.30-18.00
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairJennifer Neville, Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London
Paper 806-a Liminal Voices of Disabled Subjectivity in the Exeter Book Riddles
(Language: English)
Margaret McCurry, Department of English, New York University
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Old English; Literacy and Orality
Paper 806-b '[He] sægde him to sorge þæt hy sige-lease / þone grenan wong ofgiefan sceoldan': The Porous Borders of Affect, Race, and Sovereignty in Guthlac A / B and Exeter Riddle 10
(Language: English)
Adam Darisse, Department of English, New York University
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Old English; Mentalities; Sermons and Preaching
Paper 806-c Defining the Boundaries of Animate and Inanimate in the Riddles of Tatwine
(Language: English)
Alexandra Zhirnova, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, University of Cambridge
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Latin; Language and Literature - Old English; Rhetoric
Paper 806-d Cynewulf's Questioning of the Borders of Script and Orality in The Fates of the Apostles
(Language: English)
Jacob Wayne Runner, Institute of Liberal Arts & Science, Kanazawa University
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Old English; Literacy and Orality; Manuscripts and Palaeography
AbstractPaper -a:
With their repeated imperatives to 'saga hwæt ic hatte' ('say what I am called'), the first-person riddles of the Old English Exeter Book demand a dialogical relation between reader and speaker, subject and object, self and other. This task is complicated, however, by the fact that the speakers of the Exeter Book riddles are, in fact, not subjects, but objects that portray themselves in a variety of straitened circumstances - as impoverished foundlings, as being impaired physically and mentally, as dejected outcasts on the brink of death - in short, as disabled. This paper employs the theoretical lens of disability studies to examine the themes of marginalisation, expiration, and objectification that are voiced by the first-person speakers of the Exeter Book riddles and posits liminality as a conceptual space for readers to consider disabled subjectivity.

Paper -b:
Guthlac A/B and Exeter Riddle 10 are concerned with the porous borders of celestial/terrestrial spaces, Anglo-Saxon/indigenous identities, and affect/action. Ælfric's 'Sermo de Memoria Sanctorum', which articulates the Eight Principal Vices and Virtues and links affect to claims of bodily and spatial sovereignty, offers a theological framework that complicates previous analyses of the way Anglo-Saxon's perceived these borders. This paper investigates these texts - at the border between the genres of hagiography, poetry, riddle, and homily - and how theology was employed to erect and police the borders of bodies, spaces, and identities in Anglo-Saxon England. 

Paper -c:
This paper examines the works of Tatwine, an 8th-century Anglo-Latin grammarian and poet, whose collection of 40 Enigmata employs the paradoxical qualities of the riddle for a semantic investigation of the linguistic boundaries between animate and inanimate things. By comparing the riddles to his and others' grammatical works, this paper aims to show Tatwine's use of poetic devices to replace the harsh boundary between corporalia and incorporalia of antique grammarians with a continuum in which they can co-exist, reflecting a more general change in contemporary English thought.

Paper -d:
The four Old English poems that contain the runic Cyn(e)wulf 'signature' have continuously provoked debate as to the characters' intratextual function and interpretation. Although a case has been made for alternative words indicated by initialisms (Niles 2006), the prevailing view is that they are logogrammatic and instantiate traditional runic names (e.g. Birkett 2017; Page 1999; Symons 2016). This paper presents a semiotic assessment of a single Cynewulf poem ('The Fates of the Apostles') and argues that the text's inclusion of runes amongst the bookhand alphabet characters achieves a purposeful destabilization of the associative borders between the different scripts and between 'oral' and 'transcribed'.