2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

The Semiotic Teleology of Anglo-Saxon Charms
Arthur D. Gregg
Dr. Patricia Burton, Faculty Mentor

Anglo-Saxon charms denote a corpus of verbal remedies often accompanied by ritual action. The survival of these charms within a Christian manuscript culture is largely due to their embodiment of a shared conception, held by both pre-Christian paganism and Christianity, of the cosmos and how disease and cures worked therein. This paper seeks an interdisciplinary interpretation of the semiotics of these charms, both textual (in so far as transcribed language can be considered textual) and visual (the spatial dimensions of the charms). The textual semiotics will be assessed through literary analysis of surviving manuscripts, and an interpretation of the visual semiotics will be rooted in progressive theories of signed language and a folkloristic interpretation of the art of storytelling. The resulting cohesive interpretation of the semiotics in the Anglo-Saxon charms provides a unique lens for viewing how the charms functioned in Anglo-Saxon England.

Keywords: Folklore, Medicine, Anglo-Saxon, Old English, Semiotics, Charms, Folk, Story

Topic(s):Interdisciplinary

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 51-3
Location: OP 2210
Time: 3:15

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