Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

English

Major Professor

Roy M. Liuzza

Committee Members

Laura L. Howes, Allen R. Dunn, Thomas E. Burman

Abstract

My dissertation investigates Anglo-Saxon translation and interpretation during the reign of King Alfred of Wessex in the ninth century, and the Benedictine Reform of the tenth and eleventh centuries. These two periods represent a time of renaissance in Anglo-Saxon England, when circumstance and ambition allowed for a number of impressive reformation enterprises, including increased dedication to education of both clerical orders and the laity, which therefore augmented the output of writing motivated by scholarly curiosity, ecclesiastical inquiry, and political strategizing. At these formative stages, translation emerged as perhaps the most critical task for the vernacular writers. The Latinate prestige culture that was most often being translated was entrenched in a tradition of spiritual and philosophical austerity so early translators risked more than just their reputations by using the vernacular and thereby announcing its fitness as a vehicle of abstract and spiritual truths. Unfortunately, research into the history of English translation and its contributions to the Western interpretive tradition is still underdeveloped. The Anglo-Saxon period has either been ignored completely or dismissed as derivative, and these assumptions have misrepresented the achievements of Old English translators and restrained essential inquiry. My dissertation expands knowledge of English’s progress by investigating the relationship between the translation and interpretation strategies of the Church patriarchs and the methodologies of Anglo- Saxon writers. This project demonstrates that along with copying the practices and theories of Doctors of the Church like Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory, Anglo-Saxon translators deviated from the parameters set by tradition and turned acts of translation into instances of vernacular variation and innovation. By investigating the intellectual roots and contexts for some of these sites of early translation, I advance a more exact understanding of how and why Anglo-Saxon writers used particular strategies in their encounters with Latin discourse and how these strategies fit into the wider arena of translation and interpretation.

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