Assistant Professor of Medieval Studies, Jonathan Davis-Secord recently published, Joinings: Compound Words in Old English Literature. The first comprehensive study of the use of compound words in Old English poetry, homilies, and philosophy, Joinings explores the effect of compounds on style, pace, clarity, and genre in Anglo-Saxon vernacular literature. Davis-Secord demonstrates how compounds affect the pacing of passages in Beowulf, creating slow-motion narrative at moments of significant violence; how their structural complexity gives rhetorical emphasis to phrases in the homilies of Wulfstan; and how they help to mix quotidian and elevated diction in Cynewulf’s Juliana and the Old English translations of Boethius. This work demonstrates that compound words were the epitome of Anglo-Saxon vernacular verbal art, combining grammar, style, and culture in a manner unlike any other feature of Old English.
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