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ERIC Number: ED176359
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Nov
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
The Anglo-Saxon Boast: A Study in the Archaeology of a Speech Genre.
Conquergood, Dwight
Based on the premise that the examination of primordial and universal genres of utterance illuminates universal principles of speaking and meaning, this paper examines the Anglo-Saxon boast, a common form of speaking among Germanic warrior societies during the early middle ages. It tells how Old English literature provides evidence from which the nature and function of the boast can be reconstructed, establishes the pervasiveness of and positive attitudes toward boasting before the entrenchment of Christianity, explains how past accomplishments were used in the boast to propel the boaster toward imminent battle crises, and documents the function of the boast as a public promise regarding future behavior, rather than as an utterance of self-praise. It next analyzes the first dramatically rendered boast in "Beowulf," showing how the boast helped Beowulf recharge his identity and grapple with the real possibility of failure and death in battle. After showing how certain contemporary rituals, including some political speeches and the preparation of "vitae" by job applicants, bear the imprint of the Anglo-Saxon boast, the paper concludes by pointing to the boast as a universal principle of discourse that permits people to organize experience by creating a usable past to give meaning and continuity to existence. (GT)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Beowulf
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2-5, 1978)