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Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions

By Leslie Lockett

Old English verse and prose depict the human mind as a corporeal entity located in the chest cavity, susceptible to spatial and thermal changes corresponding to the psychological states: it was thought that emotions such as rage, grief, and yearning could cause the contents of the chest to grow warm, boil, or be constricted by pressure. While readers usually assume the metaphorical nature of such literary images, Leslie Lockett, in Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions, argues that these depictions are literal representations of Anglo-Saxon folk psychology.

Lockett analyses both well-studied and little-known texts, including Insular Latin grammars, The Ruin, the Old English Soliloquies, The Rhyming Poem, and the writings of Patrick, Bishop of Dublin. She demonstrates that the Platonist-Christian theory of the incorporeal mind was known to very few Anglo-Saxons throughout most of the period, while the concept of mind-in-the-heart remained widespread. Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions examines the interactions of rival – and incompatible – concepts of the mind in a highly original way.


Abbreviations and Short Titles
Note to Readers

Introduction: Toward an Integrated History of Anglo-Saxon Psychologies

  1. Anglo-Saxon Anthropologies
  2. The Hydraulic Model of the Mind in Old English Narrative
  3. The Hydraulic Model, Embodiment, and Emergent Metaphoricity
  4. The Psychological Inheritance of the Anglo-Saxons
  5. First Lessons in the Meaning of Corporeality: Insular Latin Grammars and Riddles
  6. Anglo-Saxon Psychology among the Carolingians: Alcuin, Candidus Wizo, and the Problem of Augustinian Pseudepigrapha
  7. The Alfredian Soliloquies: One Man’s Conversion to the Doctrine of the Unitary sawol
  8. Ælfric’s Battle against Materialism

Epilogue: Challenges to Cardiocentrism and the Hydraulic Model during the Long Eleventh Century (ca. 990–ca. 1110)


Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2011

ISBN 9781442642171