Historiographical perspectives in the signed poems of Cynewulf




Morrison, Holmes Sterling, 1942-

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The following study is very much concerned with history, but not with historical 'facts' per se, either those embedded in the poetical texts, or those supplied from without by way of 'primary' sources of one sort or another (except insofar as this information may be brought to bear on questions of Cynewulfian biography or authorship). Rather, what is of concern here are the ideas about history manifested in Cynewulf's signed poems--Fates of the Apostles, Juliana, Elene, and Christ II. Specifically to be examined are medieval ideas (both Christian and classical) concerning the meaning of history and of the historical process itself, the nature and purposes of historiography, and the relationship between historiography and hagiography as genres. And since both Christian historiography and hagiography incorporate the methods of typological interpretation, these methods therefore must be included in an analysis of poetry having such sources. Also required is 'close reading' of the poetical texts ... This latter method of analysis will be employed to demonstrate Cynewulf's poetical skills in expressing his ideas, rather than to produce a stylistic study showing the richness of his poetic textures.