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The Anxiety of Writing: A Reading of the Old English Journey Charm

Katrin Rupp

Oral Tradition Volume 23, Number 2

The performative and practical character of the Old English Journey Charm clearly places it within an oral tradition. When the charm is written down, however, the performative power of its speaking subject loses strength. By extension, the entire poem loses its original spell because its performative gestures are replaced by semiotic representations on the page. Arguably aware of this process, the scribe incorporated fears associated with his disempowering activity.

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