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Author: Thijs Porck

This contribution considers the influence of two medieval English texts on Tolkien’s fictional writings: the Old English and Middle English versions of Physiologus. As I will demonstrate, Tolkien was intimately familiar with the medieval bestiary tradition: he wrote two parodical bestiary entries and his description of spiders in The Lord of the Rings may have drawn inspiration from the entry for the spider in the Middle English Physiologus.

Open Access
In: Figurations animalières à travers les textes et l’image en Europe
Author: Thijs Porck

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of schematizations of the human life course found in Old English and Anglo-Latin texts. Patristic traditions of biblical exegesis and natural philosophy prompted early medieval English authors to divide human life into three to six ‘ages of man’, a flexible but uniform system of life course stratification in which three main phases (pueritia, iuuentus, senectus) could each be subdivided. The chapter also zooms in on an intriguing diagram in Cambridge, Gonville & Caius, MS 428/428, which uniquely visualizes four stages of life as women. This diagram and its accompanying text, the Tractatus de quaternario, have been ascribed to Byrhtferth of Ramsay. However, an exhaustive analysis of Byrhtferth’s writings, as well as a consideration of the diagram and text in their manuscript context, reveal that this attribution is unlikely.

Open Access
In: Early Medieval English Life Courses
Authors: Thijs Porck and Harriet Soper

Abstract

This introduction poses a sequence of initial questions regarding the status of the life course in this period. How far do contemporary definitions of the life course respond to contextual demands? What is the interplay between the delineation of life stages and other elements of identity formation? What is the role played by intergenerational dynamics? Tackling such questions requires sensitivity to the nuances of generic context, linguistic distinctions, and historical contingency; it is only then that more sweeping conclusions about the contours of the early medieval English life course can be reached. The perceived shape of the life course can ultimately be found to reflect and inform countless contemporary issues of religion, law, medicine and literary expression. These dynamics come into focus with a new intensity when the life course is approached holistically, when life stages are considered against one another, and when diverse sources are placed adjacently, offering sometimes synchronous, sometimes jostling, views on their theme. This introduction thus ultimately contests that the cultural dimensions of the life course in this period, often striking in their diversity, together offer a promising new field of research.

Open Access
In: Early Medieval English Life Courses
Volume Editors: Thijs Porck and Harriet Soper
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.
Author: Thijs Porck

Abstract

This collection celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the Dutch Society for Old Germanic studies, the Vereniging voor Oudgermanisten. The collection brings together contributions by both veteran and early career members of the society and centres on the theme of the encounter between the familiar and the foreign. This theme is also of central importance in one of the most widely studied Old Germanic poems, the Hildebrandslied. This poem features the culmination of Hildebrand’s thirty-year exile: a one-on-one fight with his estranged son.

Full Access
In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
Author: Thijs Porck

Abstract

This article calls attention to documents relating to the early academic life of G. J. P. J. Bolland (1854–1922). During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Bolland was enthralled by the study of Old Germanic languages and Old English in particular. His endeavours soon caught the eye of Pieter Jacob Cosijn (1840–1899), Professor of Germanic Philology and Anglo-Saxon at Leiden University, who helped the Groningen-born student to further his studies. During his stays in London and Jena, Bolland communicated with prominent scholars, including Henry Sweet, Richard Morris and Eduard Sievers. Bolland’s annotated books, hand-written notes and scholarly correspondence provide a unique insight into academic life and student-professor relationships during the late nineteenth century. In addition, Bolland produced an Old English love poem and a Beowulf summary that are published here for the first time.

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik