New Book | Anglo-Saxonism and the Idea of Englishness

Posted in books by Editor on March 27, 2020

From Boydell & Brewer:

Dustin M. Frazier Wood, Anglo-Saxonism and the Idea of Englishness in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Martlesham, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2020), 239 pages, ISBN: 978-1783275014, $99.

Long before they appeared in the pages of Ivanhoe and nineteenth-century Old English scholarship, the Anglo-Saxons had become commonplace in Georgian Britain. The eighteenth century—closely associated with Neoclassicism and the Gothic and Celtic revivals—also witnessed the emergence of intertwined scholarly and popular Anglo-Saxonisms that helped to define what it meant to be English. This book explores scholarly Anglo-Saxon studies and imaginative Anglo-Saxonism during a century not normally associated with either. Early in the century, scholars and politicians devised a rhetoric of Anglo-Saxon inheritance in response to the Hanoverian succession, and participants in Britain’s burgeoning antiquarian culture adopted simultaneously affective and scientific approaches to Anglo-Saxon remains. Patriotism, imagination, and scholarship informed the writing of Enlightenment histories that presented England, its counties, and its towns as Anglo-Saxon landscapes. Those same histories encouraged English readers to imagine themselves as the descendants of Anglo-Saxon ancestors—as did history paintings, book illustrations, poetry, and drama that brought the Anglo-Saxon past to life. Drawing together these strands of scholarly and popular medievalism, this book identifies Anglo-Saxonism as a multifaceted, celebratory and inclusive idea of Englishness at work in eighteenth-century Britain.

Dustin M. Frazier Wood is a Lecturer in English at the University of Roehampton.


Introduction: Anglo-Saxonism, Medievalism, and the Eighteenth Century
1  Anglo-Saxonisms of the Early Eighteenth Century
2  Antiquaries and Anglo-Saxons
3  Anglo-Saxon History and the English Landscape
4  Imaging and Imagining Anglo-Saxonness
5  Anglo-Saxonist Politics and Posterity
Conclusion: Sharon Turner’s History of the Anglo-Saxons


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