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Entwined Beauty: Entanglement as Metaphor und Aesthetic Principle in the World of Old English Fictional Objects

Subproject by Prof. Dr. Andrew James Johnston

The project examines how aesthetic representations of objects in Old English fictional texts invoke and even problematize processes of entanglement. It does so within the framework of the project’s larger focus on the ways in which fictional objects, as described in English medieval texts, are staged as deeply entangled in networks of complex relationships. A special focus lies on the descriptions of serpentine ornamentation that are frequently found in Old English poetic texts. These have a counterpart in the contemporaneous insular visual arts, including manuscript illuminations, sculpture and engravings. This type of ornamentation serves as a starting point for examining how objects in Old English literary texts are prone to highlight their own entangled state in a highly visual manner, and to metaphorically visualise the problematic nature of their temporal and spatial/transcultural entanglements.