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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Late Summer Lectures: The Magical Side of Miracles and Legends of the North

2nd October 2012, 17:30 to 19:00, Alington House, Durham, Natalie Jayne Moore and Meghan Glass (Department of English)

The Late Summer Lectures (LSLS) is a series organised in Durham and Newcastle to foster interest in the Arts and Humanities. For more information on the LSLS, please visit our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LSLS2012

The same lecture will also be presented at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle, the following day.

The Magical Side of Miracles The medieval legends of saints (or hagiography) lives grew into such a popular genre in the Middle Ages that the audience came to expect certain things: the saints origins, his life and good works, his death and burial, but especially his miracles. The lame walk, the dead are raised to life, the blind see, and the deaf hear. However, in the multitude of recorded miracles some similarities can be found with the more secular (though equally popular) genre of medieval romance. This paper will briefly discuss the aspects in hagiography that seem to move beyond the expected formula for saints lives and flirt with the genre boundary of romance in regards to the more miraculous, magical, or supernatural elements. This transition between the genre of hagiography and romance can be exemplified in the discussion of magical elements in hagiography that are not strictly supernatural, but more magical and other-worldly, demonstrating an incorporation into hagiography of other ideologies of magic that may not necessarily be strictly Christian. Legends of the North Stories from the medieval period in England include a number of legendary characters; from Arthur to Robin Hood, some names have lasted throughout the ages and live on in popular memory. However, there are some epic heroes who have disappeared from popular culture entirely. Champions such as King Horn and Havelok the Dane have all but vanished from our understanding of the past, and it is time we resurrected them. King Horn and Havelok the Dane are two very strong northern characters of English fictional history. The story of King Horn takes place in the fictional lands of Sudenne and Westernesse, which some scholars claim are really the lands north of Carlisle following the Cheviot Hills of Northumbria all the way to the coast of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the Isle of Man respectively. Havelok the Dane’s story similarly situates itself in the northern parts of England around the town of Grimsby in Yorkshire—in fact the tale of Havelok provides readers with the legend of the founding of the city, including a tale of its namesake Grim (who is Havelok’s adopted father). These early medieval romances give insight into the ways of life of northern Englishmen during the medieval period. I would like to lecture on these tales so that the local population can better familiarize themselves with their own local legends and histories and give some insight into how far back some of the traditions in the region truly span.

Contact latesummerlectures@gmail.com for more information about this event.

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