Speaking Two Languages

Traditional Disciplines and Contemporary Theory in Medieval Studies

Edited by Allen J. Frantzen

Subjects: Medieval Studies
Series: SUNY series in Medieval Studies
Paperback : 9780791405062, 297 pages, February 1991
Hardcover : 9780791405055, 297 pages, February 1991

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



1. Prologue: Documents and Monuments: Difference and Inter-disciplinarity in the Study of Medieval Culture
Allen J. Frantzen

2. On Reading Eve: Genesis B and the Readers' Desire
Gillian R. Overing

3. Beowulf and the Origins of Civilization
James W Earl

4. The Plot of Piers Plowman and the Contradictions of Feudalism
Britton J. Harwood

5. The Language of Transgression: Body, Flesh, and Word in Mystical Discourse
Karma Lochrie

6. Texts That Speak to Readers Who Hear: Old English Poetry and the Languages of Oral Tradition
John Miles Foley

7. Working with Patristic Sources: Language and Context in Old English Homilies
Clare A. Lees

8. Medieval Textuality and the Archaeology of Textual Culture
Martin Irvine

9. Epilogue: De Scientia Interpretandi: Oral Tradition and the Place of Other Theories in the Graduate Curriculum
Adam Brooke Davis





This book is designed for the medievalist interested in contemporary criticism but cautious about its limits. The volume's essays are not designed to offer rereadings of familiar texts, but to address the problems of articulating tradition and contemporary theory. Each contributor interprets critical methods as consciously chosen and spoken "languages," and explores the consequences of combining a traditional and a contemporary method, and hence, speaking two languages. Each essay includes a critical bibliographical note pointing to further reading in the languages it employs.

Allen J. Frantzen is Professor of English at Loyola University of Chicago. He is the author of The Literature of Penance in Anglo-Saxon England; King Alfred; and The Desire for Origins: New Language, Old English, and Teaching the Tradition.


"Speaking Two Languages offers a provocative collection of new work on the relationship of traditional medieval studies and contemporary critical practice. The goal of the collection is not simply to look at texts through theory but to refract mutually the one through the other. The simultaneity of the historical and the theoretical, the philological and the interpretive, presents a set of essays widely divergent in method and tone, and part of the experience of reading the collection is to be, by turns, seduced, cajoled, annoyed, and stimulated into a healthy conversation with them all. " — Seth Lerer, Princeton University

"It's not only in what they say but in how they have said it that these eight authors have helped Anglo-Saxon and medieval studies join the dialogues of late twentieth-century literary theory. " — R. A. Shoaf, University of Florida