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The Early South English Legendary And Difference: Race, Place, Language, And Belief

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Chapter Summary

South English Legendary (SEL) manuscripts contain a relatively high proportion of tales devoted to Anglo-Saxon saints, whose patriotic Englishness is sometimes emphasized, and this interplay between language, territory, politics, and piety may be encoded as a mode of stark contrasts, pitting English saintly protagonists against foreign invaders. This chapter considers one particular dimension of L's nationalizing ethos: how do ideas of national identity overlap with the other sites of difference, such as race, place, language, and religion, that underwrite the SEL's vision of Christian selfhood? If the early SEL maps ethnic, moral, and creedal difference onto ideas of home and territory, then these differences also resonate linguistically. The matter that ultimately gives substance to Christian institutions, that makes them realizable as such, is corporeal.

Keywords: Christian institutions; South English Legendary (SEL) manuscripts; territory

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