Clare Hall Colloquium

Tuesday 2 June, 19:45, Meeting Room

Heide Estes
Professor of English, Monmouth University
Visiting Fellow, Clare Hall
An Enemy Robbed Me of Life
Voices of Nature in Old English Poetry

In a series of Riddles written in about the year 1000, animals, plants, and even ore from the earth complain about being torn from their homes and deprived of life so as to become things useful to humans – a book, a bow, an inkwell.

These Riddling voices seem to answer back to Beowulf and similar heroes, who indiscriminately slaughtered animals and monsters alike with regard only for human priorities.

We tend to think that early cultural formations gave humans more access and empathy for natural environments and that modern alienation from nature emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution. However, the models articulated in Beowulf and the Riddles suggest that utilitarian ideas about nature existed 1000 years ago alongside a recognition that humans did not possess the only voices worth listening to.

Easter term 2015

28 April
Richard Buxton and Mercedes Aguirre 
Cyclops – changing perceptions of an ogre

5 May
Philip Jenkins (cancelled)

12 May
Pieter Botha
South Africa’s Freedom Park:
Considering land and religion in striving for identity 

19 May
Rosanna Cantavella
Sexual Education in the Middle Ages

2 June
Heide Estes
An enemy robbed me of life – voices of nature in Old English Poetry

16 June
Foss Lene
The entrepreneurial University – context and institutional change

On this page

A Midnight Modern Conversation (Detail)
Engraving by
William Hogarth, 1732

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Updated  May.19.2015