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Facing the Eternal Desert: Sociotemporal Values in Old English Poetry

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Time is a singular noun, but includes a multiplicity of temporalities, including what J. T. Fraser has termed sociotemporality. In this paper, I discuss facing the urgency of time in a narrative dominated by sociotemporality, that of the Old English poem Beowulf, and suggest how criticism of the narrative structure of Beowulf has derived from a monovalent understanding of narrative time. Moreover, in recognizing sociotemporality as dominant in the organization of the poem, the modern reader can gain greater access to what was valued in the social context of its response to “the urgency of time.”

Affiliations: 1: The University of Sydney


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