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Redundant Ethnogenesis in Beowulf

Craig R. Davis

(Smith College)

The Heroic Age 5, 2001.

One of the Beowulf poet’s purposes is to inspire a sense of common identity in an ethnically complex audience by reimagining relations between various hero-peoples of a traditional past with whom members of that audience might have identified. However, the poem’s ethnogenesis failed to achieve broad cultural authority. It proved superfluous to the task of national consciousness-building which was already being accomplished on a biblical model of moral ethnicity adumbrated in the poem itself.

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