Early Medieval English Life Courses

Cultural-Historical Perspectives


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How did the life course, with all its biological, social and cultural aspects, influence the lives, writings, and art of the inhabitants of early medieval England? This volume explores how phases of human life such as childhood, puberty, and old age were identified, characterized, and related in contemporary sources, as well as how nonhuman life courses were constructed. The multi-disciplinary contributions range from analyses of age vocabulary to studies of medicine, name-giving practices, theology, Old English poetry, and material culture. Combined, these cultural-historical perspectives reveal how the concept and experience of the life course shaped attitudes in early medieval England.
Contributors are Jo Appleby, Debby Banham, Darren Barber, Caroline R. Batten, James Chetwood, Katherine Cross, Amy Faulkner, Jacqueline Fay, Elaine Flowers, Daria Izdebska, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Thijs Porck, and Harriet Soper.

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Thijs Porck, Ph.D. (2016), Leiden University, is Assistant Professor of Medieval English at that university. He has published on Old English textual criticism, Beowulf, medievalism, and old age, including Old Age in Early Medieval England: A Cultural History (Boydell Press, 2019).
Harriet Soper, Ph.D. (2018), University of Cambridge, is Simon and June Li Fellow in English at Lincoln College, Oxford. She has published on various aspects of Old English poetry, and her research focuses especially on its representation of the life course.
"Every so often an edited volume comes along where the essays are significant in themselves, but taken together are field-defining. This is such a volume." Christina Lee, University of Nottingham

"Early Medieval English Life Courses presents evidence that supports - and in many cases, corrects - our assumptions about how lives were lived in early medieval England. The volume is valuable both as a reference and as foundational knowledge for scholars at all stages of their careers. These essays build upon one another well, but are also all able to stand alone as items of immense interest that enhance our understanding of the experience of living a life from beginning to end in early medieval England." Leah Pope Parker, University of Southern Mississippi, in The Medieval Review, 22.10.18. Read the full review here.
List of Illustrations and Tables
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Conceptualizing the Life Course in Early Medieval England
Thijs Porck and Harriet Soper

Part 1: Defining and Dividing the Life Course

1 The Ages of Man and the Ages of Woman in Early Medieval England: From Bede to Byrhtferth of Ramsey and the Tractatus de quaternario
Thijs Porck

2 Weapon-Boys and Once-Maidens: A Study of Old English Vocabulary for Stages of Life
Daria Izdebska

3 Alcuin and the Student Life Cycle
Darren Barber

part 2: The Life Course and the Human Body

4 Treating Age in Medical Texts from Early Medieval England
Jacqueline Fay

5 ‘Lazarus, Come Forth’: Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Life Course of Early Medieval English Women
Caroline R. Batten

6 The Theology of Puberty in Early Medieval England
Elaine Flowers

Part 3: Intergenerational Dynamics

7 Naming and Renaming: Names and the Life Course in Early Medieval England
James Chetwood

8 Moving On from ‘the Milk of Simpler Teaching’: Weaning and Religious Education in Early Medieval England
Katherine Cross

9 Treasure and the Life Course in Genesis A and Beowulf
Amy Faulkner

part 4: Life Beyond the Human

10 The Life Course of Artefacts
Gale R. Owen-Crocker

11 From Field to Feast: The Life (and Afterlife) Course of Cereal Crops in Early Medieval England
Debby Banham

12 Afterword: History, Archaeology and Osteology in Conversation
Jo Appleby

Medievalists, students of English literature (graduate and postgraduate), medical historians, and in particular anyone interested in early medieval England, and anyone concerned with historical ageing and life cycles.
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