Check out my recent discussion with Luke and Dan over at Northern Myths. We cover the comparative myth of Siegfried/Sigurd, references to related legends in the Beowulf manuscript, and more.
Dragon-like figures feature prominently in folklore from around the world. They often hold---or once held---special significance to their respective cultures. Chinese dragons historically symbolized good luck and imperial power, and were used in iconography surrounding the emperor. The founder of the Han dynasty went so far as to claim that his mother dreamt of a… Continue reading Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature
Anyone who's studied the English canon has likely been exposed to the famous daffodils in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." William Wordsworth was undoubtedly passionate about the natural world in general--it featured prominently in his poetry, and, together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, he was grouped rather disparagingly as one of the… Continue reading Death of the Author: An Analysis of Wordsworth
It's a song commonly played to ring in the New Year, bidding farewell to the old. Across the English-speaking world, it's used for graduations, for funerals, for any major transitional period in one's life. As a result, pretty much everyone is familiar with the tune. But growing up, I never knew anyone who was actually… Continue reading Dialects in Literature: A Look at Robert Burns
Check out the Keeping Up with Joe podcast, run by fellow writer Joseph Anderson, for insight on myth, history, linguistics, and more.
Epic poems have incredible staying power both as literary achievements and as historical resources. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is one of the foremost examples of this. Despite its mythological themes, the story offers historians a rare insight into Anglo-Saxon ideals of masculinity, heroism, and society. At the same time, it presents literary scholars with a… Continue reading History through Poems: Examining Beowulf
𝕻𝖔𝖕 𝖖𝖚𝖎𝖟: 𝖜𝖍𝖆𝖙 𝖎𝖘 𝖙𝖍𝖊 𝖓𝖆𝖒𝖊 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖍𝖎𝖘 𝖋𝖔𝖓𝖙? At first glance, many folks in the English-speaking world would probably call it "Old English," but that name isn't really accurate—the Old English language predates this style by a few centuries, and the calligraphic hands used to write Old English were entirely different. Its real name… Continue reading A Brief History of Fraktur
In general, I don't consider myself to be the morbid type. I've never had a particular fascination with death and the majority of exhibits centered around human remains--like Body Worlds, for example--fail to pique my interest. So a few years ago, when I started researching bog bodies, I guess you could say my interest in… Continue reading Meeting the Lindow Man
In a world of emerging paper currency and capitalism, it comes as little surprise that contemporary entertainment so often focused on economic problems. A surprisingly common theme in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works was the economics of the human body. Often, this issue was addressed in literature and performances through female prostitution, but some texts present… Continue reading The Common Soldier: An Archetype in 17th- and 18th-Century Theatre
Oscar Wilde has always been known as an eccentric sort of thinker. His contributions to literary theory and criticism fit the bill—he made it his purpose to defy convention and question society. Anyone who has read The Picture of Dorian Gray likely has some idea of Wilde's philosophy on Art and Beauty. The long monologues… Continue reading Putting Wilde into Conversation with His Work