Welcome back! It’s hard to believe that Old English Ecotheology is less than one week away! There have been times over the last few years where I doubted whether this project would come to fruition, so to be less than a week away is truly surreal.
Today, I’m excited to share a preview of my third chapter: Identity, Affirmation, and Resistance in the Exeter Riddle Collection. When I proposed this book, this was the chapter I was most nervous to write, partially because the Exeter riddles are such a huge collection, and partially because so much good work has already been done. (More on that on Friday!) In the end, this is one of my favorite chapters of the book: individually and as a group, the seven riddles I explore demonstrate the complexity of early Medieval English responses to the other-than-human beings. I’m really proud of my addition to the scholarship on this collection, and I can’t wait for you to read it. Check out the abstract below!
The Exeter riddle collection imagines voices for the Earth community. The bird riddles (6 and 7) exploit similarities between human and avian behaviors to affirm the intrinsic worth of the Earth community even when it makes humans uncomfortable. The horn riddles (12 and 76) give voice to other-than-human beings celebrating their participation in heroic culture: these riddles imagine that animal-objects find pleasure and purpose in their “work”, despite removal from their natural state. However, the wood-weapon riddles (3, 51, and 71) reveal an awareness that conscription into human service is not always in the best interest of the other-than-human. These thematic clusters suggest an interest in the inherent worth, active voice, and purpose of the non-human natural world.