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In this original and innovative study, Scott T. Smith traces the intersections between land tenure and literature in Anglo-Saxon England. Smith aptly demonstrates that as land became property through the operations of writing, it came to assume a complex range of conceptual values that Anglo-Saxons could use to engage a number of vital cultural concerns beyond just the legal and practical – such as political dominion, salvation, sanctity, status, and social and spiritual obligations.
Land and Book places a variety of texts – including charters, dispute records, heroic poetry, homilies, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – in a dynamic conversation with the procedures and documents of land tenure, showing how its social practice led to innovation across written genres in both Latin and Old English. Through this, Smith provides an interdisciplinary synthesis of literary, legal, and historical interests.
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Scott T. Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University.Review:
‘This book is a valuable addition to our understanding of how land and property were conceptualized in Anglo-Saxon England, and it will undoubtedly remain so for years to come.’ (Lindy Brady Modern Philology vol 112:01:2014)
‘This is a stimulating study that will send its readers back to the primary sources with new questions and a sharper awareness.’ (Alice Jorgensen Review of English Studies vol 65:269:2014)
‘The book is particularly valuable for the strong case that it makes for the value of literary analyses of texts rarely read for their beauty and usually reserved for historical discussion.’(Jennifer Neville Modern Language Review vol 110: July 2015)
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