Biophonic Soundscapes in the Vitae of St Guthlac

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Abstract

This article explores the use of biophonic information in the primary vitae of one early English saint, Guthlac: Felix’s Latin Vita S. Guthlaci, the Old English Prose Life of Guthlac, and the Old English poems Guthlac A and Guthlac B. It reveals that the sounds created by various animals, from the croak of a raven to the bellowing of a bull, are utilised for two purposes in these texts: first, to disturb the saint, to shatter his eremitic pursuits and imitatio Christi; second, to highlight Guthlac’s successful maintenance of his stablitas in the face of such sonic attacks. This use of biophony speaks to hagiography more generally, and aims to provide a model for further study into the role of sound in Anglo-Latin and Old English literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-179
Number of pages25
JournalEnglish Studies
Volume102
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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