: Poetry and Critical Commentary

  • Ashley Joy Owen

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A collection of poems translated from the Old English poem Judith, and loosely adapted to the period of English history between 980-1000CE, particularly the second wave of Viking invasions as recorded by Alfred in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Judith: A New Verse Translation tells the story of Judith, an Anglo-Saxon woman who saves her town from destruction by seducing and beheading the enemy general, Holofernes. The collection uses multiple voices to create a multi-layered narrative experience, and to re-create textually the audience-adaptive nature of live storytelling. The critical commentary accompanying the poetry compares the central character of Judith with an important figure from the Old English epic poem Beowulf – namely, Grendel’s mother, the only other physically violent woman present in the Old English poetic corpus. Common critical perceptions of both women are deconstructed through the use of linguistic and historical analysis, and through a thorough examination of the traditions of translation surrounding both poems. The commentary also addresses the ‘myth of the scop’ by tracing the creation of the popular image of the itinerant poet employed by kings back to the Anglo-Saxons themselves. The Anglo-Saxon usage of storytelling and their creation of mythologized histories are discussed as methods of solidifying a collective cultural identity, and of ingraining social mores and taboos into the public consciousness. Lastly, the commentary offers an in-depth examination of the mechanics of Old English prosody, and explains how those techniques have been adapted for use in Judith, combined with contemporary poetic techniques. There is also a historically-based discussion of the narratalogical choices made in constructing the collection.
Date of Award29 Nov 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorTiffany Atkinson (Supervisor) & David Phillipp Towsey (Supervisor)

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