Research Seminar: Fragments of a Forgotten Archive

An English department research seminar will be held this coming Wednesday April 17th at 4pm in KH216.

Professor Diane Watt, Surrey University, ‘Fragments of a Forgotten Archive: Migratory Feelings in Early Anglo-Saxon Women’s Letters’.


‘In this paper I read the poetry and letters of early Anglo-Saxon women found in the collection that has come to be known as the Boniface correspondence alongside the more famous Old English elegies. Taken together these poems and letters comprise what I call, drawing on Ann Cvetkovich’s title An Archive of Feelings (Duke University Press, 2003), an archive of migratory feelings. While the Anglo-Saxon elegies are familiar to readers beyond the confines of academic scholarship through modern translations and lyrical re-writing, the women’s letters, which represent the earliest surviving writing unquestionably attributable to named Anglo-Saxon women, are less widely known, even to those studying women’s writing, and in that sense they represent a forgotten archive. This article examines the epistolary explorations of emotions and memories of these early Anglo-Saxon nuns, including, but not only, women missionaries who migrated to Europe in order to convert others to their beliefs; emotions that are particular to their own time, but that nevertheless still resonate today.’