MLA: Perception- Conceptual Blending & Beowulf

Ronald Ganze, U of South Dakota, “Conceptual Blending and Beowulf

Retrieving the Medieval Self, 2012

This is a live blogging of the session.


Daily cognition, double stoke

Two things conflated into one.
Conceptual blending.
A-S Turner provides this on “The Dream of the Rood”
sinful humanity with sinless Christ, Cross with a thane’s life
“It [Dream of Rood] offers a complicated blend” –Turner
Though somewhat lacking to the traditions, it is in keeping with the standard understanding of the poem’s purposes.
Those poems which are allied with Christian structure are most successful.

Values of roles
Blend integrates the frame in the simplest way. Cannot have two things which are incompatible blended.

Grendel, Cain- Grendel’s ancestry and Cain and Cain’s descendants
blended Cain’s descendants become Grendel
Cain and the devil
NT references “Cain is mentioned in Heb. 11:4 and 2 other places.
Cain and the devil. I John 3:12

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Making Cain Grendel’s ancestor can be argued not to be enough to count of conceptual blending.
But it is familial conceptual blending.
I would call it grafting…
Don’t see how it shows anything relevant.
(So why discuss?)

Christian references
1. spoken by poet 2. spoken by characters

Spoken by Poet:
posthumous Christian discussion
closely follows Friendze Robinson (sp?)

Poet remarks
intial reference to father
poet reminds the audience of God of Christianity, despite the characters cannot understand this… (Why not?)

Why do they not have a possibility of a blended space? Why could the characters not have known about Christianity?

Religious doubt?
James Earl of Scyld’s funeral
“vague references to God… avoids explicity Christianity”
making the ocean symbolically significant to the flood

indirect discourse-

melting of the ancient sword
juxtaposes Christian and character’s views.

Character references
I don’t think they are Christian.
Similar to Robinson.
Poet takes advantage of OE words that were later signified in Christianity.
original audience would have understood the characters were pagan
I believe Robinson to be correct.

melting of the ancient sword- poet
Beowulf when he relates his fight to Hrothgar
“meet, measure out” or God (same word)

3 thoughts on “MLA: Perception- Conceptual Blending & Beowulf

  1. Why discuss? Because sometimes you have to explore an idea to see if it yields any fruit.

  2. I can see that if you have pursued a thought and found it not fruitful, it is good to let folks know that some particular avenue was not relevant. Then they are not repeating studies that are not useful.

  3. This was part of my point. My other point was that minus these minor instances of what might be the simplest form of conceptual blending, Beowulf doesn’t demonstrate the sorts of conceptual blending we associate with O.E. poems like “Dream of the Rood” or the various biblical translations.

    I think that this absence of conceptual blending is curious. It may well lend itself to the great dating debate, though at present I’m not sure how to read the evidence.

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