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Intellectual Origins

In 2000, Swan and Treharne edited what they believe to be a foundational volume in post-Conquest literary studies, Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century (Cambridge University Press). This was published as part of the Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England series, ostensibly narrowing its immediate audience to one traditionally pigeonholed as pre-1100. The inclusion of the book in this series might thus be considered a landmark: that the twelfth century and beyond belonged as much to Anglo-Saxonists as it might to later medievalists; that this strangely unclaimed territory could be seen less as an empty literary space, and more as one that clearly exemplifies both continuity and innovation.


The questions raised by the scholars who contributed to Rewriting Old English are as valid and important now as they were ten years ago. English in the twelfth century is multi-faceted, varied in form and content, and in a dynamic relationship with Latin and French, visible in the pages of manuscripts produced in a number of scriptoria. Work on both Latin and French has increased exponentially in the last decade too, and research and publications in these fields have greatly enhanced our apprehension of the multilingual context of post-Conquest literary production.