Thursday, August 10, 2006

Still spinning my wheels...

A Breaking Wheel
College Shield
(Your Wheel O'Fortune Spun at Wikipedia)

A form that I'm filling out requires that I also detail the fortunes of my future research ... a request that seems odd to me since I haven't done that research yet. It's future, dammit.

So I've explained to the fine people who formulate forms that I will note some of my recent research and indicate how themes broached in that research will be explored further. I hope that this spin on a response satisfies them. What follows is the section in which I describe some work on the Old English epic Beowulf.

In December 2004, I published an article on Beowulf titled "Praeparatio Evangelium: Beowulf as Antetype of Christ" in the journal Medieval and Early Modern English Studies (Vol. 12, No. 2), in which I disputed Harold Bloom's claim in his introduction to Beowulf: Modern Critical Interpretations (New York: Chelsea House, 1987) that "No one reading the poem would find Beowulf to be a particularly Christian hero" and demonstrated that Beowulf is indeed a Christian hero because he serves in the poem as an antetype of Christ.

A summary of my article is forthcoming in Craig R. Davis, "The Year's Work in Old English Studies 2004," Old English Newsletter 39.2 (2007). Among other points, Davis states:
Hodges notes typological foreshadowings of the Passion in the dragon-fight episode: (1) the hero approaches the barrow with eleven followers, the twelfth being the Judas-like "thief" (line 2219a) who provoked the dragon's attack; and (2) the hero is aided by his leofa 'beloved' retainer Wiglaf (line 2745a), recalling the similarly agapa 'beloved' disciple John (John 13.23, 19.26, and 21.20) who stands by his lord until his death on the cross.
I cite Davis's words here because they indicate a line of research to follow up, namely, the parallels between Beowulf's dragon fight and Christ's passion. My article noted these points, but more research could be done on the identical number of men who accompany Beowulf and Christ toward their confrontations with death and on the similar words leofa and agapa, respectively, for describing Wiglaf and John. Research on these would entail comparing narrative structures, character functions, and lexical terms.

I've spent my entire summer tortuously spinning my wheels on things like this and still haven't found the time to do my own research! I had planned to write two articles before the semester begins, one on Milton and the other on ... on something or other...



At 4:46 AM, Blogger Teacher: Gabe Isackson e-mail: said...

As an epic hero Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon, pagan in the midst of conversion to Christianity much in the debt of his primary oral epic roots. The epic hero, in tradition of Achiles, Oedipus and Dante is an example of his culture, but not without his flaw; much different than a Christ martyr. He is fixed to his literary purpose in a literary epic form.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

In my article, I had come to the conclusion that Beowulf was being portrayed as a pagan 'pre-Christian' antetype of Christ, which allows Beowulf to prefigure Christ even while continuing to serve as a symbol of his own culture.

There's a link to this article on the sidebar.

Jeffery Hodges

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