Anglo-Saxonism and the Construction of Social Identity

Synopsis

"Teaches us the extent to which the discipline of Anglo-Saxon studies is a construct motivated variously by political, economic, cultural, gender-based, and racialist impulses. Thus it also teaches us both humility before the limits upon our supposed 'disinterestedness' and optimism, if chastened, in our collegial ability to reform and improve our disciplinary investments". -- R. Allen Shoaf, University of Florida

Contributors to this volume explore Anglo-Saxonism as a set of beliefs and cultural practices that posits a unity among English-speakers based on their common racial, linguistic, and institutional descent from the people of Anglo-Saxon England. Value has often been set on such heritage, for Anglo-Saxonism asserts the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon people and sees their institutions as models of good government, commercial prosperity, and piety.

In an examination of Anglo-Saxonism in a variety of forms and in several different periods of English and American literary history, the authors investigate how the Anglo-Saxons themselves thought about the origins of national and racial identity By linking current theoretical studies to the early manifestations of Anglo-Saxonism, they seek to contribute to the "new medievalisms" -- theoretically aware, institutionally focused, and interdisciplinary medieval studies -- that are transforming the academy.