Session Title

Æthelflæd in Post-Medieval Literature

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies and Manuscript Research

Organizer Name

Rebecca Barnhouse

Organizer Affiliation

Youngstown State Univ.

Presider Name

Rebecca Barnhouse

Paper Title 1

Imagining Æthelflæd: Historical Fiction, History, and Gender

Presenter 1 Name

Scott T. Smith

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Pennsylvania State Univ.

Paper Title 2

A Mercian Lady of Character: Æthelflæd in Prose Fiction for Youth

Presenter 2 Name

Bruce Gilchrist

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Concordia Univ. Montréal

Paper Title 3

Bernard Cornwell's Æthelflæd

Presenter 3 Name

Trish Ward

Presenter 3 Affiliation

College of Charleston

Start Date

11-5-2018 3:30 PM

Session Location

Fetzer 2020

Description

Post-medieval writers who look to the Anglo-Saxon period for material have trouble finding historical female characters who are both well-documented and active enough to sustain a narrative. Because she was educated, powerful, and led an exciting—and documented--life, Aethelflaed is an exception, which makes her an inviting topic for writers of works for both adults and young readers. For example, Rebecca Tingle imagines what it would be like to be the daughter of Alfred the Great in her young adult novel, The Edge on the Sword, while in The Empty Throne, Bernard Cornwell focuses on the political situation after Aethelred’s death, when an adult Aethelflaed leads the Mercians. These types of books, and others from the 19th-21st centuries, raise a number of questions: How do authors negotiate the tension between what their research tells them and the needs of the story? Does the portrayal of such an exceptional character lead non-medievalist readers to misunderstand female roles in the Anglo-Saxon era? What can post-medieval literature about Aethelflaed uncover that academic writing doesn’t reveal? This session invites scholars to reflect on the ways Aethelflaed continues to intrigue readers and writers twelve centuries after her death.

Rebecca Barnhouse

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May 11th, 3:30 PM

Æthelflæd in Post-Medieval Literature

Fetzer 2020

Post-medieval writers who look to the Anglo-Saxon period for material have trouble finding historical female characters who are both well-documented and active enough to sustain a narrative. Because she was educated, powerful, and led an exciting—and documented--life, Aethelflaed is an exception, which makes her an inviting topic for writers of works for both adults and young readers. For example, Rebecca Tingle imagines what it would be like to be the daughter of Alfred the Great in her young adult novel, The Edge on the Sword, while in The Empty Throne, Bernard Cornwell focuses on the political situation after Aethelred’s death, when an adult Aethelflaed leads the Mercians. These types of books, and others from the 19th-21st centuries, raise a number of questions: How do authors negotiate the tension between what their research tells them and the needs of the story? Does the portrayal of such an exceptional character lead non-medievalist readers to misunderstand female roles in the Anglo-Saxon era? What can post-medieval literature about Aethelflaed uncover that academic writing doesn’t reveal? This session invites scholars to reflect on the ways Aethelflaed continues to intrigue readers and writers twelve centuries after her death.

Rebecca Barnhouse