Neo-Old English, Anglo-Saxonism and the New English Nationalism

The Medieval Institute is pleased to present the seventeenth annual lecture in the Graduate Student Invitation Series with Chris Jones, ESRR Professor of English, University of Utah.

Since the 1997 devolution referendums in the United Kingdom, a new form of English nationalism has emerged based on English exceptionalism and English grievance. In both public political discourse and online grassroots communities, this version of English nationalism has been grounded in, and nourished by tropes, of Anglo-Saxonism and a belief in English identity as dependent on ethnic descent from ‘Anglo-Saxons’. In political discourse over around two decades these tropes were harnessed to the cause of the ‘leave’ campaign in the debate on the UK’s membership of the EU (resulting in the ‘Brexit’ referendum of 2016). This lecture will examine examples of this recent manifestation of ‘Anglo-Saxonism’, alongside several neo-Old English slogans that circulate on the internet among far-right and extreme nationalist communities, in order to lay bare the ideology underpinning their attachment to events such as the Battle of Hastings, and to poems such as The Battle of Maldon. This event was recorded on March 2, 2023.

Chris Jones works mainly on the reception of the Middle Ages, and Old English in particular. He is the author of Strange Likeness: the Use of Old English in Twentieth-Century Poetry (OUP, 2006) and Fossil Poetry: Anglo-Saxon, Linguistic Nativism and Nineteenth-Century Poetry (OUP, 2018), as well as co-editor of The Middle Ages in the Modern World: Twenty-First Century Perspectives (British Academy/OUP, 2017). He is co-commissioning editor of Boydell & Brewer’s book series ‘Medievalism’. He taught at the University of St Andrews in Scotland UK for over twenty years and is now the University of Utah’s inaugural ESRR Professor of English. His current research interests are in the contemporary political appropriation of the medieval, especially the early English past.

For more information visit the event website.

Art and HistoryLaw and PoliticsAnglo-SaxonBrexitDigest151digest222English LiteratureMedieval InstituteMiddle AgesOld EnglishUniversity of Notre Dame

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