ABERDEEN, S.D. – Dr. Peter Ramey, assistant professor of English at Northern State University, has recently published an article in the journal, Modern Philology, examining early English vocabulary.
The article, titled “The Riddle of Beauty: The Aesthetics of Wrætlic in Old English Verse,” was published on Feb. 1.
As Ramey explained in a summary of the article, “The article, ‘The Riddle of Beauty: The Aesthetics of Wrætlic in Old English Verse,’ probes some of the key terminology of artifice and awe in Old English verse, focusing on the word wrætlic. Within the context of renewed scholarly interest in aesthetics, this Old English term is particularly ripe for reappraisal. The adjective is used in the poetic corpus to single out items of extraordinary craft and beauty, among them, Beowulf's special iron-wrought shield, a precious neck-ring, the ruined wealstan, God's voice, the bright plumage of the phoenix, and a large number of mysterious riddle-objects.”
“More than simply another poetic word for "wonder," wrætlic indicates a kind of artifice that inspires awe and holds within itself a riddling significance unique to its form. Recognizing the aesthetic values associated with this and related terms helps to balance perspectives on Old English poetry that have emphasized conventionality and tradition and that often have neglected the way the poetry generates experiences of strangeness, mystery, and awe. Together these terms reveal a distinctive-and unrecognized-aspect of Old English literary aesthetics, one that privileges not replicability and sameness but uniqueness, intricacy, and strangeness, with resulting sensations of awe.”
Ramey came to NSU in August 2012. He is a native of Grand Marais, Minn. He received his undergraduate degree from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. He then went on to earn his master’s degree and Ph.D. in medieval literature at the University of Missouri. His research interests include Old English language and literature, aesthetics, and liturgy and hymnody.
Modern Philology is published four times a year and “sets the standard for literary scholarship, history and criticism.” For more information about Modern Philology, visit their website at http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/mp/current.
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