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Who Do These Anglo-Saxon(ist)s Thinks they Are, Anyway?

By Allen J. Frantzen

Copyright 1994 by the author.
Last modified October 19 1999.

"The dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic," Carl Jung wrote.1 In our dreams we know ourselves in many guises and play roles denied us in waking life. I thought about dreams a few months ago at a performance of Wagner's Lohengrin, an opera in which the imperilled heroine, Elsa, radiates an eerie calm. The source of her serenity is a dream in which she has seen the knight who will save her. Her confidence, we later realize, is premature. In Werner Herzog's Bayreuth production, Lohengrin comes to the rescue in a swirl of smoke and laser light that is indeed the stuff of which some dreams are made. For the moment, at least, Elsa is safe.2 Shortly after the performance, in my own trüben Tagen ("troubled days"),3 I recalled Elsa's dream-induced calm with envy, for I found myself trapped in a nightmare, a review of Desire for Origins by Joyce Hill in which I play some unaccustomed roles, including the villain's.4 Hill's review led me to reflect anew on the history of Anglo-Saxon studies and its future, and on the public and private grounds on which our identities, personal and professional, meet our disciplines. Here and elsewhere I speak in the plural, I realize, but I speak only for myself.

Discussion of the future is important to our work, and, as I have said elsewhere, that discussion requires us to explore our personal and professional identities, understand the histories of our disciplines as personal as well as intellectual history, and contemplate changes in who we are and what we do.5 In Desire for Origins I argue that we should include "not Old English" as well as "Old English" texts in our work; recognize our kinship with generations of early scholars who have long been dismissed and denigrated; and build our relations with newer kin, our modernist and postmodernist colleagues in the university. The discipline has been defined too exclusively, I say, and we need to find ways to expand its horizons, embrace new methodologies and technologies, and above all learn how to articulate our interests within the institutions that house us. In this effort I join a growing list of other scholars, including Helen Bennett, Robert Boenig, Lois Bragg, James W. Earl, John P. Hermann, Sarah Higley, Martin Irvine, Clare A. Lees, Marie Nelson, Gillian Overing, and others. Like many of these scholars, graduates of traditional undergraduate and graduate programs, I belatedly realized that the methodologies of my education were implicated in critiques of structuralism that were contemporary with my student days but absent from my studies. Later, in the 1980s, I began to read poststructuralist writing, and it was then that my view of medieval studies changed. Students today experience medieval studies in a poststructuralist, post-feminist age. They know that success depends to some extent on their ability to integrate their work into emerging institutional contexts. These students also know--for all their teachers remind them--that poststructuralist thought, difficult and demanding though it is, does not take the place of the knowledge of languages, history, literature, and culture more generally that medieval scholarship requires.

I attribute this reminder to "all their teachers" because those of us who have explored contemporary methodologies have never argued that medieval studies were possible without traditional skills. Yet some scholars argue as if the traditional and contemporary were mutually exclusive. Some of those who avoid poststructuralist thought retain the privilege of demanding that medieval scholarship influenced by poststructuralism be justified solely on traditional terms. No little antagonism is evident in some opposition to revisionist medievalism, opposition that is scornful and dismissive in its attempts to consolidate power in traditional methods. Those of us who engage contemporary criticism sometimes find ourselves challenged as intruders, as strangers on the beach, not unlike the way in which Beowulf and his retainers rouse the coastguard's suspicion as they arrive in Denmark. Even though many of us are not recent arrivals, much less strangers to this territory, we nonetheless are asked for our identity papers--our place of origin, our reasons for speaking as we do, and our intentions in bringing new teachings to ancient lands. Unwelcoming responses to changes form part of my subject, and I will look at them in four sites: first, Hill's review as a symptom of response to recent work in Old English; second, a confrontation between Frankish Christians and their Frisian neighbors discussed in commentary on Anglo-Saxon studies by Thomas Shippey, which, with a response by Gillian Overing, appeared in the first issue of Æstel;6 third, Wagner's interpretation, in Lohengrin, of a similar moment set somewhat later in Frisian history; and finally the future, in particular new directions in Anglo-Saxon studies as they are treated in the Old English Newsletter and as they are emerging in the electronic media that have already begun to remake the medieval world we study.

I begin with Hill. She accuses me of caricaturing the community of Anglo-Saxonists. I fail to define this group as it would be defined by people like Hill. "Most of us," she writes, "in teaching and research, as members of ISAS [the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists], as readers of Anglo-Saxon England," would define this community as "scholars whose interests, collectively and often individually, range over Latin and Old English language and literature, history, archaeology, art, manuscript studies, and so on." Instead, I define Anglo-Saxonists as those who "hold to a narrow philological concept of Old English: lots of grammar, few texts, and no contexts." In my mind this group "is everybody," she says, and then adds, "Frantzen himself excepted, of course" (these last five words occur in parentheses, p. 162).

Portraying me as someone who excludes everybody else, a community unto myself, Hill implies that I am alienated even from my own work. "[Frantzen] ignores or misrepresents much of the work done on vernacular prose and Anglo-Latin literature in recent decades," she writes (p. 163). This would be very curious, if it were true, since I published two books about Old English prose in the last decade, recently oversaw the translation of one of them, for which I wrote a new introduction, and have continued with a long-planned electronic edition of the penitentials.7 A reader of Anglo-Saxon texts for twenty years, I published my first work seventeen years ago and have performed regular organizational service. So I consider myself thoroughly integrated into our institutional structures. Desire for Origins makes an appeal for change from inside the subject to colleagues old and new. There I conceptualize Anglo-Saxon studies more inclusively than do most of my critics, Hill in particular. Indeed, the community as Hill defines it is clubby and exclusive: membership in an organization and readership of a costly journal precede her mention of the content, linguistic or material, of our discipline. Hill claims that my supposed isolation is self-constructed, but obviously she is its scene-setter and architect. She appears to assume not only that I speak alone but that she speaks for everybody else. Indeed, her review exudes the official rudeness characteristic of those who rise eagerly to the task of putting others in their place (outside the walls, or below the salt).

Hill, it would be generous to say, ignores my aim of extending the boundaries of our scholarly community. Nonetheless, her response to Desire for Origins is very valuable. Her claim that I caricature the profession only to create a place for myself to stand outside it is not a careless misreading of my argument but a careful one, designed to isolate me from the people I have been working with and talking to for nearly two decades. It is also designed to exclude critical theory as an irrelevant excrescence and a blind path. Those of us who have been struggling to gather new methodologies into Anglo-Saxon studies--as I have been doing since 1985--are familiar with attempts to disperse and dismiss them, to return these supposedly hostile forces whence they came. Raymond Tripp, among the first to spot the new arrivals on the beach, railed against the "new wave of hateful books," his term for work by Hermann and some others.8 Alexandra Hennessey Olsen, not far behind, lost no time condemning this new work, and, as both Overing and I have demonstrated, misrepresenting it in the process.9 Hildegard Tristram, reviewing Speaking Two Languages, joins this list of defenders, but with a difference. She asserts that the critical models discussed in the book might be recent imports in the U. S. but that they are old hat on the Continent. That they are overly familiar in medieval studies on the Continent she does not and cannot say, of course, and had she sought to document her claim with contemporary critical work in Old or Middle English produced by continental scholars she would have had a very short list indeed.10

Not all reviewers, I am happy to say, are compelled to these extremes, and not all are negative. Scholars who review for the Year's Work in Old English Studies tend, in the main, to be cautious, modulating their commentary judiciously and deploying their characterizing adverbs and adjectives with care. Their task is to inform the journal's readership, not to steer it, but these functions are not neatly separable. Charles Wright, for example, while unenthusiastic about Origins, produced a fair summary of the book's argument and did justice to my ambivalence about the theoretical tools I employed; Thomas N. Hall summed up arguments made by John Miles Foley, Martin Irvine, Adam Brooke Davis, and me in Speaking Two Languages fairly.11 Roy M. Liuzza found Earl's psychoanalytic reading of Beowulf "beautifully clever" and praised Earl for avoiding "blather about how the history of Beowulf criticism reveals hidden agendas of generations of critics." This admiration for Earl's cleverness was the only positive response my collaborators and I seem to have had in YWOES. J. R. Hall dismissed Overing's feminist essay on Genesis B as "fem-speak," "fem-fog," and "fem-crit," and Lees' arguments about the theoretical basis for the study of Old English prose found an unsympathetic (if polite) reader in Theodore H. Leinbaugh. Hall's criticism of Overing's work is a little puzzling, since he later treats Marie Nelson's "gradually sensitized feminist sensibility" with apparent respect. Robert Boenig's "crit-think," however, Hall finds as "unconvincing" as some of Boenig's doctrinal arguments, but Hall admits that Boenig's is "a book filled with learning."12

Hill makes no attempt to achieve balance, as does Hall. Rather, she bristles with defensiveness, denial, and contempt. She insists that contemporary perspectives have nothing to offer that the traditional methods of Anglo-Saxon studies do not already include. By closing the door on the discussion--although Hill gives some evidence that she's been listening to it anyway, and Tristram would have us believe that she's heard it all before--these reviewers seek to reconstitute the traditional community and scatter the forces of those interested in new views of Anglo-Saxon culture. Hill's attack is far cleverer than anything Tripp or the others have produced, and despite its harshness and beginner's mistakes in tone--we know that critics do better to reproach with wit than blast with invective--it is beneficial. No review better exposes the limitations of the conservative reaction to poststructuralist methodologies in Anglo-Saxon studies. No review better reveals why Anglo-Saxon studies need the thorough going-over they are getting from poststructuralists, feminists, cultural materialists, and others whose work Hill and some others would anathematize.

The presumed intent of such attacks as Hill's is to reassure traditionalists that there is nothing new under the sun, that postmodern approaches are reductive and meaningless collections of jargon and politics, and that they will eventually go the way of the hula hoop or be washed out with the next tide. The effect of these reviews, however, is the opposite, for the reviewers, even as they maintain that this postmodern stuff is no good, are anxious to demonstrate that they can handle it as well as anybody. Although even her most recent work shows no trace of Jauss or any reception theorist, Hill boldly represents herself as someone equally fluent in both old and new theoretical modes (Tristram would seem to claim the same expertise). But exemplifying what goes wrong when new ideas are too eagerly embraced, Hill makes a muddle of reception theory; her debut as a theorist is a sorry performance, but it is a spectacle to which she herself compels our attention.

Hill maintains that my history "is constructed in terms of Jaussian reader-response theory" (p. 162) but that my application of "reader-response theory" is partial (p. 163). (I note that "Jaussian reader-response" theory, Hill's term for reception theory, is not to be confused with affective stylistics, which is the form of reader-response criticism most familiar to those who read theoretical works.) The second claim is plausible, since any application of a theory is bound to reduce the theory's scope. But Hill does not say where my application is flawed, and in fact she cannot do so, since she denies that I get to texts and manuscripts at all. I do indeed draw from Jauss, but also from Foucault and Derrida, and I contextualize my use of all three writers carefully, relating their work to that of Edward W. Said, J. G. A. Pocock, Hayden White, and some others. That is to say, I understood the need to bring the old and new together; I anticipated the need to assist readers unfamiliar with these theorists before I engaged their concepts in analyses of Anglo-Saxon texts. By excluding my debt to Foucault and Derrida from her review (or are both also "reader-response" critics?), Hill eliminates the need to deal with the oppositional claims and difficult concepts contained in their work.

Having limited my book's theoretical range to reception theory, Hill seizes on Jauss to create a superficial resemblance between the contemporary and the traditional that demonstrates considerable ignorance of Jauss's own controversial and revisionist claims. She declares that texts emerge "in dialogue with previous texts and traditions" (p. 163) and that they are rewritten by contemporary as well as all subsequent audiences. These self-evident points are merely reductions and loose paraphrases of detailed arguments I make in my fourth chapter and test against texts in chapters five and six.13 Hill maintains that I say little about the fact that reader-response theorists "have always maintained that reception at the historical moment of a text's appearance is also an essential part of literary study" (p. 163). Her own discussion of a text's emergence in culture is a gratuitous attempt to redefine reception theory as the lexical, historical, and codicological work medievalists perform all the time.

These tasks certainly can engage the text and its emergence in culture, but for generations they have done so only narrowly and with little more than language study in mind, within the narrow textual confines that Jauss criticizes as literary "essentialism." Hill does not realize that reception theory, by whatever name she chooses to call it, works against analysis confined to the production and structural analysis of texts. She appears unacquainted with Jauss's insistence on breaking open the "closed circle of an aesthetics of production and of representation" created by both Marxist and formalist criticism. Jauss inveighed against formalist protocols (these explicitly include philology) that reduce the reader to "a perceiving subject who follows the directions in the text" and who reflects on its artistic (and one can add, linguistic) devices.14 Reception theory asserts the importance of patterns of understanding that emerge only as a text is read and reread and rewritten over time--not within one age (e.g., the Anglo-Saxon), no matter how diverse its linguistic data might be. This much is clear from a single famous essay by Jauss, "Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory"; had she read it, Hill would not have written as she did. She regards my use of reception theory as "partial" because I discuss the later, "not old English" reception of Anglo-Saxon texts and manuscripts more fully than the contemporary or "Old English" reception, which Anglo-Saxonists, of course, have been writing about for decades. Since she completely suppresses my detailed discussion of manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon texts, whether Bede's History, Beowulf, or poetry and prose of less critical stature, her charge that Frantzen "underplays the opportunities for studying Anglo-Saxon reader-response" is not only questionable, but coy.

If Hill underplays my use of reception theory, she also fusses pedantically with points seldom contested. She seems to consider erroneous my claim that Ælfric's Colloquy "was used to teach Latin through the medium of English, when," she asserts, "the gloss is probably not Ælfric's at all" (p. 163). If the Colloquy was not a device for teaching Latin through English, Hill has made a major discovery and should share it with us. If, on the other hand, she is saying only that like dozens of people--herself included (p. 163)--I cite this text by its editorial title, Ælfric's Colloquy, she is guilty of a non sequitur: that Ælfric did not write the text has nothing to do with its purpose. Hill ignores my criticism of the editorial reception of this text, the normalization of spellings that divests the text of its linguistic context and takes the "Anglo-Saxon" out of the Anglo-Saxon document.15 If Hill is indeed more concerned with "direct approaches to Anglo-Saxon England" (she criticizes me for spending more time on the history of the discipline than on "direct approaches," p. 162), she might have dealt with the many places in which I do approach texts directly, rather than quibble irrelevantly with details in an attempt to shore up her own position.

Hill is not the only reviewer who misrepresents the traditional side of my scholarship in an attempt to dismiss its revisionist implications. Liuzza, for example, shares Hill's inability to see that contemporary and traditional modes of analysis are not exclusive. Liuzza complains that my discussion of "writan" and "forwritan" in Beowulf ignores the history of the manuscript. "He [Frantzen] does not mention that the immense distance between ourselves and the Anglo-Saxons, and the tattered state of the only surviving witness, have compounded the ambiguities [of the text]," Liuzza writes.16 But my argument discusses the manuscript repeatedly.17 Again like Hill, who borrows my discussion of texts as events--never applied before to Anglo-Saxon work, to my knowledge--without admitting the originality of my synthesis, Liuzza borrows from but conceals his source. Challenging my suggestion that "forwritan" can mean not only "put to death" but perhaps "to interpret," Liuzza offers that "the word may be related to Lat. proscribere 'to banish'." He might have added that I offered this suggestion myself, although, unlike Liuzza, I at least remembered to credit my source, James Earl.18 Hill and Liuzza operate on the level of my first reviewer, Peter Godman, who began his comments on The Literature of Penance in the Times Literary Supplement by paraphrasing my opening anecdote about Charles Plummer and representing it as his own.19

Reviewers co-opt their subjects' language and ideas in order to reinforce their own authority. There is, as David Halperin has observed, a "psychology of rumor" at work in writing such as Hill's (there is other psychology at work there, too!). The meaning of many theoretical terms, old or new--such as reception, intertextuality, and deconstruction--cannot be inferred from context.20 Even so, some readers trust to inference rather than invest in the difficult and time-consuming study of these terms. The result of such intellectual laziness is that the new term is resignified by those whose acquaintance with it is largely second-hand until it means the same as the term it replaced, or simply means what the writer wants it to mean. In a recent article, for example, Hill employs "intertextuality" as nothing more than a pretentious new term for source study.21 Likewise, "reader-response" (read: reception) theory is, in her hands, merely a new name for literary history. The attempt to normalize critical language seeks to assure the reviewer's audience that the new is mostly old and that the new bit is harmless.

As signs of the reception of new ideas in the profession, such attempts are deeply disturbing. There is no longer anything naive about them, uninformed though these simplistic appropriations of theory are. Nor, when accompanied by the hostility that suffuses Hill's review, do these statements merely reassert the priority of conventional methodologies at the expense of new knowledge and new connections. They also aim to put an end to the seeming nonsense of the re-examination of Anglo-Saxon studies that contemporary methods undertake; they seek to "forwrite" or proscribe them, banish them along with "blather" about ideological agenda and "crit-speak" and "fem-fog." I don't want to banish Liuzza or Hill from the ranks of theorists, however. Rather, I encourage Hill to persevere in the new mode of her reference to Ælfric and her ambitious models of reception. I particularly recommend to her Lees's fine work on Ælfric and contextualized language use.22 And now Earl, too, plans a major project about Ælfric from which Hill will learn much about the reception (or "reader-response") models which she has so newly, and so warmly, embraced.

Hill's use of reception theory is less expressive of a willingness to learn than of a need to represent herself as someone who has already absorbed the shock of poststructuralism and whose leadership in traditional scholarship is thereby boosted. Her review shows her to be the quintessential insider; her opinions are to be accepted as true merely because she holds them. Five times she insists that certain aspects of the Fontes Anglo-Saxonici are "not" what I claim them to be, her italics building drama on the surface of phrases whose substance is never supported. My statements are based (as I say) on materials produced by those in charge of the project. Certainly nothing Hill asserts invalidates my criticisms, while her claim that Fontes is "a reference work for the very thing that modern critical theory teaches us to study: the text as an 'event' in dialogue with its own cultural past" (p. 164) again betrays both her debt to my arguments and her extraordinarily reductive grasp of the current theoretical scene. I am pleased, however, that Hill understands that theory does teach, although who constitutes "us" for her I am not quite sure. As we await a full set of statements from these projects, let me note that a synopsis of my points appeared in 1986, not 1990, and that those who wished to had plenty of time to decide how best to reply to them.23 Hill begins her review by mentioning the 1986 essay; it appears to be a review that took shape before the book it was about was opened.24

The comments about the sources projects that so provoked Hill were only marginally important to Desire for Origins--two pages (pp. 86-88) that receive a long, angry paragraph while two chapters (on Bede and Beowulf) were let pass without mention. Presumably this lack of proportion results from Hill's personal investment in one of these projects (she is on the Fontes steering committee). Her defensiveness is revealing, although not entirely unexpected. What is unexpected is her distortion of matters of record. In Origins, commenting on another scholar's list of the impressive range of projects currently influencing Anglo-Saxon studies, I mention the journal "Anglo-Saxon England, published in Cambridge and affiliated with the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists" (p. 13). My statement about this link, Hill says, "is simply not true" (Hill p. 163). At first I did not know what she was talking about. Then I realized that she did not know what she was talking about.

The ISAS Constitution declares that ISAS maintains a "working relationship" with other bodies, including ASE, the Medieval Academy, and other "groups" (it is interesting that this distinguished journal is seen as a "group").25 ASE publishes the Record of the General Business Meeting of the ISAS biennial assemblies and has done so five times, beginning in 1984.26 There are other dimensions to this link. Those who subscribe to Anglo-Saxon England are asked by the publisher if they belong to ISAS; if they do, their subscription is discounted--not much, but enough to make the ISAS membership worthwhile. It is also important that, until the 1991 meeting, half the space in every other issue of ASE was set aside for papers read at ISAS. When Michael Lapidge reported that the editors had terminated this arrangement, he reiterated that the journal would continue "as the Society's principal publishing organ."27 The connection between ISAS and ASE has never struck me as objectionable; I made no criticism of it. Why does Hill insist that my claim of this affiliation is "simply not true"? I assume that she knows the meaning of "affiliation." The word which she appears not to understand is "true."

Hill defends just one of the sources projects; in fact, there are two of them, and between them the Christian content of Anglo-Saxon studies is well served. What is certainly less obvious in Anglo-Saxon scholarship today is analysis of early English culture's debts to its northern and continental neighbors (monasteries excepted!). It was for more work in this area that Shippey called. Shippey has his own misgivings about contemporary critical modes, but unlike others I have mentioned he understands the need to define our communities to include them. His case for reaching back to Germanic contexts accompanies a willingness to entertain new visions and revision of tradition.28

Shippey corroborates my view of the history of our discipline, which is that the tradition of Anglo-Saxon studies has not served its subject well. He writes that "a lot of our troubles have been caused by poor pedagogical practice and poor teaching instruments--both of which we could certainly reform" (p. 120). Shippey explicitly engages the language of community and identity that operates below the surface of Hill's review. He maintains that a new group--he named Hermann and Ted Irving29 along with me--laments the marginalization of Anglo-Saxon studies and says that Old English scholars, as Shippey put it, should "cry peccavi," "reject our professional ancestry from philologists," and "embrace the new learning of critical theory" (p. 114). I warmed to this reference to penance and confession, but the sacrament on Shippey's mind was baptism, an important site at which old meets new. He prefaced his paper with an anecdote about Radbod, a Frisian duke who had been lured by St. Wulfhramn into the baptismal font.30 When the saint explained that, once baptized, Radbod would go to heaven while his noble ancestors burned in hell, the heathen promptly retreated. Radbod, Shippey explained, represents "most of us [Anglo-Saxonists];" the duke's damned predecessors "are the whole philological tradition"; the teachings that Radbod rejected are critical theory; and the saint is Derrida. For Shippey, the anecdote was a superbly diplomatic choice. It pleased traditionalists, who want to resist change and identify with our ancestors, but it pleased reformers, since--although Shippey wisely omitted this point--the saint won the war even if he lost the battle. Shippey's witty use of this anecdote to stage the current debates of medieval studies reminded me why I enjoy scholarship: it is the joy of discovering and tracing connections, in this case, connections between Anglo-Saxonists taking sides and sides being taken by the Anglo-Saxons and their contemporaries.

This episode, Shippey reminded us, took place around 720, a date that struck me as rather late for resistance to conversion by Anglo-Saxon missionaries (Boniface left England in 716 to renew the Christian mission among the Franks, not to begin it). The English missions to the continent had been underway for some time at that point and had, with Frankish assistance, made headway into Frisian territories. In 678, Aldgisl, the king who was Radbod's immediate predecessor, had welcomed Bishop Wilfrid, star of the "synod" of Whitby (in 664), to his court. Wilfrid had been deposed by Theodore of Canterbury in 678 and immediately went to Rome to get his bishopric back. On his way Wilfrid visited the Frisian king, at which time, Eddius Stephanus reports, "most of the chieftains ('principes')" and "many thousands of common people were baptized."31

Radbod's resistance was more complicated than it seems. Rolf Bremmer, Jr., has recently reminded us that Willibrord's 690 mission to Frisia was undertaken under the protection of Pippin, the Frankish king who had recently occupied Frisia. Religion was in this case, as in most others, deeply intertwined with politics. Radbod ruled the Frisian heartland and, although he was apparently as gracious to the Christian missionaries as Aldgisl had been, nonetheless refused to become Christian. To Radbod, as Bremmer observes, "Christianity was synonymous with Pippin's political aspirations."32 Digging in his heels some four decades after Wilfrid first preached to his predecessor's people, therefore, Radbod was something more than a backslider. His refusal to join a movement that his predecessor had already endorsed was less a betrayal of a recently-acquired religious loyalty than a defense of a very old one and also an attempt to preserve political freedom and independent identity. Radbod was the last independent ruler of Frisia. He did not want to give up the religion of his ancestors because he did not want to give up his homeland. For a while Radbod succeeded. The "clearing up of the remains of Frisian heathenism," as Wilhelm Levison described it, was not completed until Charlemagne supervised it at the end of the eighth century.33 This long resistance suggests that Radbod's example, although ultimately futile, was nonetheless a lasting one.

For Radbod became a token conservative. In effect, he asked the Frankish archbishop who he was to insist that the Frisians change their ways. Shippey was not the first to recognize his significance to contemporary political controversy. Bremmer shows that Frisian sources from 1200 to 1500 cast Radbod as a contemporary of Charlemagne (they lived a century apart, of course) and as a vassal of an evil northern king who subjugated Frisia until Charlemagne assimilated Frisia into his empire and expelled Radbod. Radbod's fame spread in medieval legend, unlikely though this seems, as part of a Grail legend about Lohengrin. Lohengrin is Parsifal's son, and Lohengrin's ill-fated marriage forms the last episode of Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival (written c. 1200).34 The legend of Lohengrin was transmitted to the nineteenth century by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who kept Radbod's fame alive in "Lohengrin zu Brabant," one of the Deutsche Sagen that rose to prominence as the source for Wagner's libretto for Lohengrin.35 The Grimms, we have known for a long time, were intensely interested in contemporary politics and the nationalizing, unifying power of the stories they successfully passed off as ancient, although many were recent productions, contemporary fabrications.36 Wagner's interpretation of the legend, my third site, is rich in implications for the drama Shippey found in Radbod's resistance.

The plot of Lohengrin is not the stuff of fairy tales, which is how the plots of grand opera are so often dismissed (especially by those who never see them). In fact, Lohengrin has been seen as a religious allegory not much different from the story about Radbod and Wulfhramn.37 But the opera, like the saint's life, is also deeply historical, and beneath its history is a grim vision of the future. Lohengrin is a Frisian political drama, set in Brabant two centuries after the conversion to Christianity was completed. Radbod's spirit still hovers over his homeland; his last descendent, an evil woman named Ortrud, figures as the villain of the opera. Ortrud is Wagner's own creation, and Wagner bases his compelling narrative on her resistance. Henry I, the first Saxon king of the Germans (Henry the Fowler, 916-936), arrives in Brabant en route to combat the Hungarians; the king is dismayed to find the land leaderless at a time when the evils of the East are threatening. He learns that when the duke of Brabant died, he named Friedrich Telramund protector of his children. Elsa, the dead duke's daughter, spurned Telramund's offer of marriage--she had already had her dream of the knight who awaited her--and he renounced her and married Ortrud instead. Ortrud hopes to form a new alliance that will reinstate the pagan line of Radbod. Because Elsa's father failed to secure means for a peaceful transition, his burden has fallen onto his young daughter. Thus the destructive old order has a chance to re-emerge.

Ortrud's plan requires that she eliminate both Elsa and Elsa's brother, Gottfried, whom Ortrud has cursed and turned into a swan. Having deprived the land of a male leader, she uses his disappearance as a pretext for calling Elsa to judgment so that she will be condemned to death by Henry, who will dispense justice when he musters the troops to march to the East. Elsa is summoned to the king in the dream-like state I described earlier. She is without a champion and her cause seems to be lost. Then, just as she predicted, her savior appears in the person of Lohengrin, who swiftly defeats Telramund in combat and promises to lead the Brabantans behind Henry. Lohengrin also wins Elsa's love, but he sets difficult terms: his bride must never ask his name or his place of origin. She agrees and they wed; then, tricked by Ortrud, she succumbs and demands to know her husband's identity. Forced to reveal his origins, the Swan Knight withdraws just as suddenly as he had appeared. Elsa and Ortrud both die, as women almost always do in Wagner's operas (but not only Wagner's), and the Frisians are back where they started.

The opera is perfectly ambivalent, it seems to me, and it offers a much richer subject for meditation than the story of Radbod, which for Shippey furnishes the binaries of a simple drama of new and old, a configuration of the debate about contemporary criticism and Anglo-Saxon studies that satisfies Shippey and, it seems, many others. The opera can help us see Radbod's resistance as something other than stubborn refusal to accommodate change; it also helps us understand the future as something other than a triumph. In the opera both old and new are complex. Ortrud's venerable and ancient line is also evil; her rage is driven by her society's renunciation of pagan gods, whose wrath she constantly evokes. Lohengrin favors Elsa's line, obviously, but appears to come from neither side and remains unknown to both. For Elsa, his reassurances prove to be quite meaningless, for he is available only on his own mysterious terms; she must take him on faith but finds that she cannot. In the end, both the new God and the old gods seem quite detached from their believers' miseries. Lohengrin restores the swan to human form, undoing Ortrud's curse and causing her to collapse; but Elsa collapses moments after embracing her newly found brother, leaving Gottfried, a child whose only accomplishment is his tenure as a swan, rather poor preparation for the burden of leadership thrust upon him as the Brabantans march off to war.

Wagner's version of the tale emphasizes Ortrud's role. Lohengrin has been seen as mythic as well as religious drama. In either case, the Swan Knight's chief opponent is this woman. Ortrud has been convincingly likened to a mythic dragon whose death precipitates the fall of the old, chaotic order and the onset of the new. She is, Thomas Bargatzky has written, akin to the "true genius loci, the autochthon par excellence, the representative of the old order with whom would-be conquerors must do battle before they can take possession of a terrain on which to found a new order of things--a new state, a new dynasty or even a new social order."38 Whether we see the opera as political, mythic, or religious drama, it is this angry woman, not her famous ancestor, who represents the old order. It is she, not her husband, whom the hero must overcome. Lohengrin defeats Telramund, but Ortrud defeats Lohengrin. Yet in the end she too dies, vanquished.

The opera's conflicts are more clearly historical and political than mythic, but those conflicts too promise no resolution or clear way forward. To see what we can learn from the opera's retelling of the conflict at the heart of Shippey's anecdote, let us move from the culture of the story to that of the storyteller, from the medieval culture to the modern, first to Wagner's, then our own. Claims for a German nation figured into Wagner's political career, his anti-royalist sentiments so strong that he was forced into exile from his own homeland immediately after the period in which Lohengrin was finished (the score was completed in 1848, the first performance was given in 1850). Dietmar Holland claims that Wagner intended the opera as "a document of the oppositionist spirit prevalent" in Germany before the revolution of 1848.39 Wagner hoped for a new united Germany to arise in Saxony, instituted by a constitution drawn up in Frankfurt in 1848; riots and rebellion followed, and Wagner eagerly stoked the populist spirit. But the revolution failed, the democratic constitution was dismissed, and the King called in the troops. Wagner was forced into exile, and his withdrawal from politics has been compared to the Swan Knight's disappearance at the end of the opera. Robert W. Gutman calls the opera one of the "final monuments" to romanticism: "No longer would men flee reality by seeking the past; the future--"progress"--beckoned."40 With Lohengrin, Wagner left medieval history behind (Der fliegende Holländer [1843] and Tannhäuser [1845] were finished); he returned to the Middle Ages in Tristan (1865) and Parsifal (1883) in forms even more spiritualized and dehistoricized than the Ring cycle, and in Die Meistersinger (1868) he wrote less about medieval legends than about those who create and reshape them. But if Lohengrin was a farewell of sorts, it is rich with unfinished business. For in it Wagner displaced the burden of the medieval legend onto women and left the story's conflicts unresolved. He left it, in other words, as a rich site for poststructuralist, postfeminist thought.

The opera, in a distinctively nineteenth-century gesture, reconfigures the conflicts of the life of St. Wulfhramn as a drama of national unity (the conflicts of Beowulf met a similar fate in the period, we know). Ortrud seeks to undermine King Henry's attempts to hold the German nation together, just as Radbod sought to undermine Pippin's attempts to form a Frankish empire through Christian conversion. The sacrament of importance is neither baptism, when one's sponsors speak for the initiate, nor penance, when one speaks Shippey's "peccavi," but matrimony, when both parties say "I will." Matrimony is, in history, in Anglo-Saxon texts, and in the opera, a tool for achieving tribal or national unity. Radbod married his daughter to a Frankish prince. Elsa was supposed to have married Telramund but saves herself to marry her mysterious knight instead. Henry the Fowler sought to marry his first son, Otto, to a sister of Athelstan; the English king obliged by sending the Saxon two sisters from whom to choose.41 Marriage also figures into the origins of this legend in literature. Wolfram is believed to have incorporated the Lohengrin legend into Parzival in response to the dilemma of Henry I, then the duke of Brabant, who was sonless and so named his daughter as his heir, only to have a son a few years later.42 What links these stories, we can see, are women left over and left behind.

The difference between the life of Wulfhramn and the later episodes I have discussed, including Wagner's opera, is the difference between comedy and tragedy. For Christianity, the story of Wulfhramn is a comedy. For Radbod and his line, that story is a tragedy. Wagner sought political reform, Holland claims,

But the composer's choice of subject meant that the failure of the protagonist would be a foregone conclusion, for the Lohengrin legend shows that the miraculous appearance of a Messiah-like figure is irreconcilable with the conditions of the concrete social reality into which that figure enters. (Holland, p. 17)

Holland's pitiless language has a certain appeal. Lohengrin represents the disappearance of an old tradition as a tragedy--many would sympathize!-- and refuses to represent the new as triumphant. But the situation has more to tell us if we are willing to see that the tale and the opera are not about conversion, and that the current drama of Anglo-Saxon studies is not about conversion, either. Nor are these sites at which old meets new about unity. Instead, like all entertaining events, these episodes are about conflict. Anglo-Saxon studies today have our Ortruds and Elsas, our Telramunds and Gottfrieds. In Shippey we have our King Henry, trying to pull us all together, just as in Hill and other coast guards we have forces making sure we stay apart. What links these episodes in my mind is that they are all about the failure of traditional institutions to provide those who inhabit them with a future. That is why, for me, it is not compromise or collusion, but connection that matters; it is Herzog's opera and Overing's bracing response to Shippey that supply persuasive models for the future.

Wagner, I have shown, leaves Lohengrin unresolved. The ambivalence of this situation was captured perfectly in the Herzog production I mentioned in my first paragraph, which did what many modern opera productions do: it changed the ending without changing the text. The knight vanished on cue at the opera's end, but neither Elsa nor Ortrud collapsed. As snow began to fall, heralding a loveless ice age, the curtain dropped but the widows did not. They shocked the Festspielhaus audience by moving towards each other, arms extended but not quite touching in our last glimpse of them. These were women without men but not without alternatives. When I saw this production at its premier in 1987 the audience was first stunned, then furious: they didn't get the ending they expected. In 1993 the same ending, still extraordinarily effective, produced no outrage at all. Likewise, the critical ideas that outrage Anglo-Saxonists like Hill in 1993 will hardly seem out of place in 2000, not because all Anglo-Saxonists will have turned into theorists but because Anglo-Saxon studies and Anglo-Saxonists themselves will have changed. Herzog's proposed alliance of Elsa and Ortrud seemed, in 1987, an impossible drama of reunification, which is one reason why, in 1993, the production neither raised eyebrows nor got credit for its bold vision of the future. I could do worse, ten years from now, than to see that my arguments about Anglo-Saxon studies had met a similar fate.

Shippey too, unlike Hill and some others, looks ahead; he wants to prepare for a new age. He observes that we have had a philological and a critical phase of Old English studies, that both had failed, and that it was time for a new "historical phase" (p. 134). Having played Radbod, the recalcitrant convert, he now played the saint, the converter. But Shippey's call for a new historical phase, like Radbod's reluctance and like Wulfhramn's call to conversion, is not an innovation. Shippey saw as much. "Maybe the model for current philology and critical theory is not Radbod and Wulfhramn, heathens and Christians, abandon one way and choose the other, but rather Augustine and Aidan, or Wilfrid and Aidan, or Bede and Cuthbert: a well-organized but unappealing textual body revivified and translated into popular consciousness by a force from outside" (p. 133). Shippey believes in rapprochement between old and new, although when he asks, "Are philology and critical theory really exclusive?" (p. 115), he is staging a drama of choice that is as empty for us as Radbod's drama was ultimately for the history of Frisia. Just as Aldgisl had already made the compromise Radbod rejects, the question Shippey posed had already been answered (and not for the first time) in Hermann's book and my own. Both of us stress that philology is as theoretical as any other model of knowledge and that it emerged in a climate of political and intellectual ferment; its ascent to the status reserved for disinterested knowledge was a late development in the tradition.

The possibility of Anglo-Saxon studies finding a role in "popular consciousness" through an outside force--Shippey's prospect--seems remote to me. We cannot look outside ourselves for the new direction that we must take, or the new directions, but rather must find the future within us. In order to do so, we need to think about knowledge frontiers, points at which new meets old and at which the known and unknown connect. This can be a beach, a waterfront, or even a baptismal font. The beach is a frontier, at least for new arrivals, and at that site some scholars will continue to try to repel the new wave, the knowledge frontier that has come to them. Future scholars will not have much choice, I believe, since the catalogue of theoretical work in Anglo-Saxon studies is slowly growing. Among the frontiers where new and old meet all the time are reviews and electronic media. In closing I want to look at the Year's Work in Old English Studies and its categories as examples of how, on the institutional rather than individual level, the old greets the new. I want to comment on some changes needed in bibliography-based reviews of our work and to close with some comments on electronic technologies and medieval studies.

The Year's Work has already placed its agenda before the scholarly public. In 1988 the Year's Work celebrated its twentieth anniversary. The Old English Division of the Modern Language Association held a session in which Joseph Trahern, Daniel Calder, Helen Bennett, and I commented on the project. I suggested that there was a need for Anglo-Saxon studies to find institutional ways to accommodate new developments in the discipline. I called particular attention to the categories in which the OEN classified and reviewed scholarship and argued in particular that we needed a section on pedagogy because theory was forcing us to rethink our ways of presenting Old English in the classroom. I also urged a category for theory itself and for subdivision of other categories.44 The additions I proposed were acknowledged by Wright, who reviewed my essay in the 1989 "General and Miscellaneous" section.45 Bennett contributed a damning survey of how scholarship about women's issues had been dismissed or ridiculed or simply "not seen" in the Year's Work and proposed a category for keeping track of that work in the future.46 There have been some changes, although Bennett and other feminists can take little satisfaction in them.

The categories for review began to change in 1990, when "General and Miscellaneous Subjects" silently exploded into seven subdivisions, including "Pedagogy and Theory." Also appearing there were "History of Anglo-Saxon Studies" and "Anglo-Saxon and Modern," a section about twentieth-century work based on Old English. Women appeared in "History and Culture" as a separate section. But in 1991 some of these developments vanished. "Theory" disappeared from "Pedagogy and Theory" (a cruel blow in the year in which Speaking Two Languages was being reviewed) and reappeared under "Literature, General and Miscellaneous," along with "Society and Culture," "Meter and Prosody," and "Orality and Literacy." Women appeared only in the appalling category of "Women, Families, and Invalids." This latter group, which provokes gales of laughter whenever it is repeated, and not a little indignation as well, is particularly unfortunate in that the "invalid" in question is none but King Alfred.47 Absent a category on feminist research, the 1991 subdivision is difficult to appreciate even as a joke.

The Year's Work will have to continue to expand and diversify its categories, in particular as collections appear that directly address areas of scholarship that are not yet recognized. Lees' new volume on Medieval Masculinities is an example.48 Nor will pressure be brought to bear only on "History and Culture." "Literature" too will not for long be able to contain under the vague, all-purpose "General and Miscellaneous" heading all the new theoretical work on Old English--which is where the 1991 volume returns it. Little of that work is either "general" or "miscellaneous," however. The editors' reflections on these matters, I have argued, create and assign value; their categories, and their headings, affect us all.

One area that the editors could easily include on a regular basis is a category for large-scale research projects, Fontes, SASLC, and the Dictionary of Old English, cataloguing them as new installments and volumes. Another category that demands attention is electronic media, a subdivision that, as the media involved require, should take account of developments in projects rather than of completed projects and should regularly list these projects as open-ended and "in progress." Such projects include the catalogue of Anglo-Saxon illustrated manuscripts, an on-line edition of Beowulf, and others that are likely to be in progress for some time, including Patrick W. Conner's "Beowulf Workstation" and "Seafarer," which John Ruffing and I are developing.

The electronic dimensions of scholarship have been admirably catalogued by Paul G. Remley in a discussion of electronic editing that ends with some dark thoughts about the most exciting electronic technology of all, "hypertext." Remley believes that hypertext systems "have the potential to produce a sense that there is something just out of reach, some gloss or interpretation that lies behind the passage at hand but whose precise nature is hard to fathom."49 He is right, of course. But evrything he says about hypertext can also be said about traditional research and teaching tools. For there is always a newer book or article than the one we've just read, and many editions make it maddeningly difficult for beginners in particular to get to the textual and manuscript evidence.

From what I have learned by using it for three years, hypertext is an entirely hopeful and positive development. It decenters the linear ways of reading enforced by conventional print materials and centers the reading process and experience, and the subsequent organization of data, on the reader, not on the text. Hypertext implementations consist of many texts, whether verbal or iconographic, and enable users to link those texts in any way they see fit. The significance of hypertext has been greatly clarified by George Landow, who subtitles his book on hypermedia "The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology."50 According to Landow, the "defining characteristics" of hypermedia "derive from its use of blocks of text joined by electronic links," a combination that "emphasizes multiple connections rather than linear reading or linear organization."51 Landow links the functions of hypertext to poststructuralism.

This link is especially useful for readers who are familiar with the main movements in poststructuralism that Landow discusses (especially deconstruction) but not with hypertext itself. Deconstructive theory prepares one for the textual operations of hypertext. The pedagogy here can also be reversed: it is possible that many Anglo-Saxonists will learn about poststructuralism by learning about hypertext. A knowledge of literary theory helps one grasp the cognitive concepts of hypertext that are often obscured by the impressive surface activity of hypertext programs. "What is perhaps most interesting about hypertext, though," Landow writes, "is not that it may fulfill certain claims of structuralist and poststructuralist criticism but that it provides a rich means of testing them."52

This decentering is a model for the future operation of medieval studies. I believe that our space in the classroom will, at least in the lifetimes of many of us, continue to shrink.53 Most of us realize that institutional pressures do not favor our enterprise, in the U.S. or the U.K., although to judge from Hill's tone one would think that nothing that is wrong with Old English isn't wrong elsewhere.54 It seems apparent that Old English continues to lose ground to Middle English, in particular in a survey of institutions in the U.K.55

I wrote Desire for Origins with curricular and demographic trends in mind. My proposals there for connecting Anglo-Saxon studies to other areas of the curriculum are offered as suggestions for strengthening our place by building links to other disciplines and other areas of cultural study. If our classroom space is shrinking, other kinds of space are opening to us as the materials of our profession are transferred to electronic media. Electronic forms of texts, microfiche editions of manuscripts, and other devices will make the corpus of texts and certain features of material culture too more widely available than ever before. If this will not be a perfect democratization of sources, it will certainly be more democratic than summer or sabbatical trips to England and the continent. The electronic revolution in medieval studies is not predicated on poststructural developments in our disciplines. But the two recent arrivals go together much better than either does with the traditional and resistant custody of the profession. Neither of them holds the promise of completeness; dictionaries do come to an end (if only to be supplemented) and other catalogues presumably do at some point become finished. But methodological changes do not end, as the histories of our disciplines show us, and those changes being supported by new technologies certainly are only in their first phases. The incompleteness of hypertext, which disturbs Remley, reassures me. I like the feeling that there is always more to know just around the corner, that there is something about to happen we have not thought of. I think back to Elsa and Ortrud, enemies in tradition, turning toward each other at the conclusion of Herzog's daring, exhilarating Lohengrin. I think about opera, which speaks to so many more people about the Middle Ages than do the scholarly forums in which we invest our attention almost exclusively. Opera is an art form that medievalists can dismiss as irrelevant to our subject, in much the same way that critical theory is often dismissed as irrelevant to Old English texts. The irrelevance of theory is a leitmotif (to borrow a Wagnerian term used by Hill [p. 163]) of traditionalist complaint; that complaint is also a demand to choose the old and shun the new, to take a side and stick to it. But the sides are not so easy to differentiate. It is not so easy to tell where we stand, or what Radbod's resistance really meant; the sides are changing when the curtain falls on Herzog's Lohengrin. We don't know what happens next.

No curtains are about to fall on Anglo-Saxon studies, but we don't know what happens next in this forum, either. Taking a cue from Herzog, I will continue to experiment with new ideas rather than reject them. With Overing, I celebrate "connections between our present and past academic history, and between our own histories and the texts we study and create" (p. 149). The link between Anglo-Saxon texts and Anglo-Saxonists is made easier for me by the textual and musical worlds of opera, an alien form that illuminates performative contexts in Old English texts and in Anglo-Saxon studies. Opera stimulates me to rethink conflicts in the works I teach and write about--Lohengrin and conversion, Tannhäuser and penance--and the conflicts I live. Hill's review, I now see, struck me as a call to judgment in a court in which I would not get a fair hearing; obviously she felt my book had already passed a similar judgment on projects she holds dear. Our confrontation recalled the exchange between Shippey and Overing, and the exchange between Radbod and the archbishop. It also recalled the political dynamics of Lohengrin, which proved more complex, when seen through my own preoccupations, than they had appeared a short time earlier. The opera, in turn, helped me to see new complications in the other exchanges, including my response to Hill's portrait of me as the scheming engineer of a new critical order. I find that this opera has given me new sympathy for the old order and new awareness of my ties to it. The opera inspires some uneasiness, too. It reminds me that old orders don't readily disappear and that new movements, especially those wrapped in mystery, don't inevitably resolve the crises from which they promise to deliver us.

Loyola University Chicago


1 C. G. Jung, "General Aspects of Dream Psychology," in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, from Collected Works, vol. 8 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 266.

2 Herzog's Lohengrin premiered at the Bayreuth Festival in 1987 and was given for the last time there in 1993. This performance is available on videotape: Richard Wagner, Lohengrin, Choir and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festspiel conducted by Peter Schneider, staged and directed by Werner Herzog (Philips 440 070 536-3; New York: PolyGram Video, 1991).

3 Elsa's aria is "Einsam in trüben Tagen," p. 78 in the text which accompanies the performance conducted by Sir Georg Solti and released in 1987 (London 421-053-2). Hereafter cited as Wagner, Lohengrin.

4 Joyce Hill, review of Desire for Origins, Anglia 111 (1993):161-64. Further references are given by page number in the text.

5 Allen J. Frantzen, "Documents and Monuments: Difference and Interdisciplinarity in the Study of Medieval Culture," in Speaking Two Languages: Traditional Disciplines and Contemporary Theory in Medieval Studies, ed. Frantzen (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991), pp. 1-33.

6 T. A. Shippey, "Recent Writing on Old English," Æstel 1 (1993):111-34; Gillian Overing, "Recent Writing on Old English: A Response," Æstel 1 (1993):135-49. I thank the editor of Æstel for the invitation to join this discussion and am grateful to Vincent Bruckert, Andrew Cole, George Paterson, and Joyce Wexler for their comments on this essay.

7 The Literature of Penance in Anglo-Saxon England (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993) was translated by Michel Lejeune, La littérature de la Pénitence dans L'Angleterre Anglo-Saxonne (Fribourg: Éditions Universitaires, 1991); for the new introduction, see pp. ix-xxi. My electronic edition of the Anglo-Saxon penitentials is announced in Old English Newsletter 25.4 (1993), p. 32. The Newsletter is hereafter abbreviated as OEN.

8 Ray Tripp reviews John P. Hermann's Allegories of War (1989), Barry Tharaud's Beowulf: Translated with an Introduction and Afterword (1990), and Marc Hudson's "Beowulf": A Translation and Commentary, in Geardagum 12 (1991):55-62. See further Overing's commentary, "Recent Writing," pp. 143-44.

9 Olsen's review of Desire for Origins appeared in Geardagum 12 (1991) 63-66. Overing discusses Olsen's inaccuracies in this review and in Olsen's review of Overing's Language, Sign and Gender in Beowulf, which appeared in Speculum 67 (1992):1024-26. See Overing, "Recent Writing," pp. 145-46, and my essay, "When Women Aren't Enough," Speculum 68 (1993):445-71, pp. 468-69, reprinted in Studying Medieval Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism, ed. Nancy F. Partner (Cambridge, Ma.: Medieval Academy of America, 1993), pp. 143-169, 193-97.

10 Hildegard L. C. Tristram, review of Speaking Two Languages, Anglia 111 (1993):164-68.

11 "The Year's Work" is hereafter abbreviated as YWOES. Charles Wright's review appeared as part of YWOES in OEN 25.2 (1992):7-8, and Thomas N. Hall's in YWOES for 1991, OEN 26.2 (1993):22-23.

12 For J. R. Hall's comments in YWOES, see OEN 26.2 (1993):32 (on Overing), 36 (on Boenig), and 37 (on Nelson). For Liuzza's comment, see p. 49, and for Leinbaugh's, p. 58.

13 See, for example, my discussion of texts as sites of conflict and of textual production, Origins, pp. 126-28. My fourth chapter is a discussion of "textual eventfulness" that Hill loosely paraphrases without acknowledgment at several points.

14 For a clear contextualization of reception criticism and its relation to "reader response," see Paul de Man's introduction to Hans Robert Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic of Reception, trans. Timothy Bahti (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), pp. vii-xxv. I quote from pp. 18-19. Jauss's "Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory" forms the first chapter of this book.

15 See Origins, p. 135 and note 14.

16 Roy Michael Liuzza, "Poetry: Beowulf," YWOES, OEN 26.2 (1993), 49.

17 Liuzza reviewed a longer version of my sixth chapter in Origins on Beowulf, which appeared as "Writing the Unreadable Beowulf: Writan and Forwritan, the Pen and the Sword," Exemplaria 3 (1991):327-57. There I comment on the manuscript's "physical defects such as holes, erasures, and worn-away letters" and on the irony that "writan" (the word itself) has lost its first three letters ("wri") at the edge of folio 167v and that only "ten" appears, on the next line. See pp. 334-36 and notes for references to other scholarship, especially Kevin S. Kiernan, "The State of the Beowulf Manuscript 1882-1983," Anglo-Saxon England 13 (1984):23-42.

18 In Origins, p. 149, n. 56; in "Writing," p. 334, n. 29.

19 Peter Godman, "Sanctioning the Sinners," Times Literary Supplement, 29 April 1983, p. 442.

20 David Halperin, "Historicizing the Subject of Desire," in Foucault and the Writing of History, ed. Jan Goldstein (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1994), pp. 19-34.

21 Joyce Hill "Ælfric and Smaragdus," Anglo-Saxon England 21 (1991):203-37 (p. 232).

22 Clare A. Lees, "Working with Patristic Sources: Language and Context in Old English Homilies," in Speaking Two Languages, pp. 157-80. Lees' own commentary on the sources projects, pp. 160-62, bears Hill's scrutiny.

23 Others have already sought to explain away my reservations, or at least to assert their irrelevance. Charles Wright, commenting on Origins in YWOES (see n. 11, above), claims that the introduction to the trial volume of the Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture project (published in the same year as my book) discusses "precisely" the "issues of textuality [and] literacy" that I say the sources projects neglect. I find few statements about "textuality" or "literacy" in Thomas D. Hill's introduction to this volume, precise or otherwise.

24 See my article, written with Charles L. Venegoni, "The Desire for Origins: An Archaeological Analysis of Anglo-Saxon Studies," Style 20 (1986):142-56.

25 Stanley B. Greenfield, "Record of the First Conference of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists," Anglo-Saxon England 13 (1984):1-5; see Constitution, paragraph 3.

26 The proceedings are found in Anglo-Saxon England, 13 (1984):1-5, 15 (1986):1-4; 17 (1988):1-3; 19 (1990):1-3; and 21 (1992):1-4.

27 Lapidge's comments are reported in the Record printed in Anglo-Saxon England 21 (1992):3.

28 Shippey's essay in Æstel was read to the Old English Division of the Modern Language Association in San Francisco in December 1991; at the invitation of John Miles Foley I offered a reply, from which the following comments are drawn, at MLA in New York in 1992. I thank Professor Foley for this opportunity. Hereafter references to Shippey's essay are given in the text.

29 Shippey commented on Edward B. Irving, Re-reading Beowulf (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989).

30 See the Vita Vulframni, Monumenta Germania Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum, 5:668. Radbod is mentioned by Bede: Wihtberht preached to Radbod and his people for two years "but he reaped no fruit at all from his labour among the barbarians who heard him," Bede writes. See Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), book 5, chapter 9, pp. 479-81. Wulfhramn was the archbishop of Sens.

31 Eddius Stephanus, The Life of Bishop Wilfrid, ed. and trans. by Bertram Colgrave (Cambridge, 1927; reprint Cambridge University Press, 1985), chs. 26-27, pp. 52-55. The politics and procedures of such baptisms are illuminated in essays contained in Pastoral Care Before the Parish, ed. John Blair and Richard Sharpe (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1992), especially Sarah Foot, "'By Water in the Spirit': The Administration of Baptism in Early Anglo-Saxon England," pp. 171-92.

32 Rolf H. Bremmer, Jr., "Willibrord through Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Eyes," Friesische Studien 1, ed. Volkert F. Faltings, Alastair G. H. Walker, and Ommo Wilts (Odense: Odense University Press, 1992), pp. 1-28. See the summary of Radbod's resistance on pp. 5-7.

33 Wilhelm Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946), p. 108.

34 Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival, translated by A. T. Hatto (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980); Lohengrin here is known as Loherangrin. His story forms the concluding paragraphs of Chapter 16, pp. 409-10. Wolfram attached the story of Lohengrin to the Grail legend in an act of "reckless incorporation," Hatto writes, drawing from separate legends of the Swan Knight and taking the hero's name from the romance Garin le Loherain (Hatto, p. 418).

35 "Logengrin zu Brabant" was Wagner's immediate source. See Deutschen Sagen, ed, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Berlin, 1816-18), quoted in Lohengrin: Texte, Materialien, Kommentare, ed. Attila Csampai and Dietmar Holland (Reinbek, 1989). See there the essay by Hans Mayer, "Die politische Frau: Ortrud und Lohengrin," pp. 249-53; cited by Thomas Bargatzky, "Lohengrin's Dragon Fight," Lohengrin: Programmheft IV (Bayreuth: Verlag der Bayreuther Festspiele Gmbh, 1993), pp. 75-85 (p. 77 n. 8).

36 See Origins, pp. 68-72, for a discussion of the Grimms. Shippey suggests that I ignore the pseudo-scientific boasts that characterized the work of early Germanic philologists, including the Grimms and John Mitchell Kemble. As Overing notes (pp. 138-39), I do discuss their certitude and their exaggerated view that they could dismiss the work of all previous scholars because none of it was scientifically rigorous. Still, I was pleased to hear Shippey say that I had tried "to pad genuine sharp edges" (p. 117). This is, I do believe, the first time I have ever been said to have seen commentary on Anglo-Saxon studies as insufficiently pointed.

37 William Mann, "The Creation of Lohengrin," in Wagner, Lohengrin, pp. 14-16; see p. 16, where Mann identifies the conflict between pagan and Christian religions as part of the opera's historical drama.

38 Bargatzky, "Lohengrin's Dragon Fight," p. 80.

39 Dietmar Holland, "Lohengrin's Tragic Dialectic," in Wagner, Lohengrin, pp. 17-22. On the political context of the opera see also Helmut Kirchmeyer, "Dresden's Legacy: The Lohengrin Conflict of 1851," Lohengrin: Programmheft 1 (Bayreuth: Verlag der Bayreuther Festspiele Gmbh, 1987), pp. 53-59.

40 Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and the Music (New York: Time, 1968), p. 130. Gutman summarizes Wagner's political career during this period, which was closely connected to the composer's need for patronage, pp. 128-41.

41 See Sir Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd. ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 354-36. Henry married the sister named Edith.

42 Hatto, Parzifal, pp. 419-20.

43 Holland, "Lohengrin's Tragic Dialectic," p. 17.

44 Allen J. Frantzen, "Value, Evaluation, and Twenty Years' Worth of Old English Studies," OEN, Subsidia 15 (1989):43-57; see pp. 51-55.

45 Wright, YWOES for 1989, OEN 24.2 (1991):3.

46 Helen Bennett, "From Peace Weaver to Text Weaver: Feminist Approaches to Old English Literature," OEN, Subsidia 15 (1989):23-42. Bennett includes a bibliography of feminist work to date.

47 For "Women, Families, and Invalids," see "History and Culture," YWOES for 1991, OEN 26.2 (1993):83-84.

48 Clare A. Lees, ed. Medieval Masculinities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994).

49 Paul G. Remley, "An Electronic Reading Text of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales," Æstel 1 (1993):77-110, see pp. 107-108.

50 George P. Landow, Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992). See p. 4 for a discussion of the term's origins and associations. There are many shades of definitions for hypertext, which despite its name often refers to non-textual materials (especially graphics), hence hypermedia. Referring to specifically textual structures, Ed Krol calls it "a method of presenting information where selected words in the text can be 'expanded' at any time to provide other information about the word. That is, these words are links to other documents which may be text, files, pictures, anything." See Ed Krol, The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog (Sebastopol, California: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 1992), p. 228.

51 George P. Landow, "The Rhetoric of Hypermedia: Some Rules for Authors," in Hypermedia and Literary Studies, Landow and Paul Delaney, eds. (Boston: MIT Press, 1992), pp. 81-103 (p. 81).

52 Landow, Hypertext, p. 11. See Patricia Ann Carlson, "Square Books and Round Books: Cognitive Implications of Hypertext," Academic Computing (April 1990):16-31 (p.46).

53 The American Council of Education reported the "most severe" drop in enrollment in six years, according to a 26 December 1993 article in the New York Times (National edition, p. A8: "College Enrollment Seems to Be Shrinking, Survey Says").

54 Hill insists that Anglo-Saxon studies are no more isolated than other areas of literary study (162). I observed that Anglo-Saxon studies shared certain liabilities with Renaissance and eighteenth-century studies (a point she seems to have missed); see Origins, pp. 4-5.

55 See James Simpson, "The Enjoyment and Teaching of Old and Middle English: The Current State of Play," OEN 25.3 (1992):29-31. He reports that 32 institutions teach Old English and 39 Middle English, which makes the former look quite healthy. But 25 require Middle English as "a component in degree assessment," with only four offering it as an introduction, while only six require Old English for a degree and 11 require it as an introduction. There is no OE in nine departments, but no ME in only two. It is difficult to generalize about this balance of specializations, as I found in doing a survey of the South Atlantic MLA in 1989; see "A Recent Survey of Teaching Old English and Its Implications for Anglo-Saxon Studies," OEN 26.2 (1992):34-45.

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