What’s the Point: Storytelling in Beowulf

Venables, Melissa J. (2019) What’s the Point: Storytelling in Beowulf. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Stories which are set apart from the surrounding discourse, contain sufficient detail to engage the audience, have recognisable characters, and have a discernible point may also have the power to effect change by influencing their audiences. The purpose of this thesis is twofold: to develop a methodology that approaches stories in a way that acknowledges this power to act, and to test whether Old English narratives can be approached in this way by applying the methodology to Beowulf.

The first section draws on socio-narratological theory to describe social dimension of stories by describing their powerful aspects, including flexibility, multiplicity, intertextuality, emplotment, interpellation, identity formation, and magic. This underpins the analytical framework designed to identify embedded narratives, determine whether they conform to the specialised definition of story described above, and identify the core point or points of the story. The framework emphasises the layers of evaluation in the story as an indicator of a given narrative’s central point.

The second section provides a new reading of Beowulf centred on the questions 'Which, if any, of the aspects of story does the narrative exhibit?' and 'What is the most evaluated aspect of the story?' Of the forty-one narratives embedded in the poem, four groups have been selected as case studies: the Unferþ episode, the Finn episode and The Fight at Finnsburh, stories Beowulf tells about women, and the rest of the stories told by Beowulf. The case studies show that the methodology can be used to shed new light on a medieval text. Beowulf exhibits many of the aspects of narrative described in the first part, and it is clear that it was composed with the social dimension of stories in mind.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Cavill, Paul
Marsden, Richard
Keywords: storytelling, narrrative, Beowulf
Subjects: P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 56456
Depositing User: Venables, Melissa
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2019 04:40
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 11:32
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/56456

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