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Published November 8, 2018 | public
Journal Article

Conquest and Transformation, the Oxford English Literary History volume 1: 1000–1350 [Book Review]

  • 1. ROR icon California Institute of Technology


A quick glance at the table of contents of the Norton Anthology of English Literature reveals the immediate usefulness of Laura Ashe's Conquest and Transformation. Between 'Anglo-Saxon Literature' and 'Middle English Literature in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries' lie a mere sixty-odd pages, divided among early Irish lyrics, excerpts from Anglo-Norman Arthurian histories, and romance. The pressures of the literary survey have exerted more-than-usual weight on the complex and illusive centuries that lie between the Norman Conquest and Geoffrey Chaucer: the relative paucity of texts written in English, and the tendency of scholars in the discipline to congregate around Anglo-Saxon or late Middle English, has rendered the literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries particularly opaque to non-experts. Within the roomier ambit of the Oxford English Literary History series, Ashe shines much-needed light on this period, devoting a book-length study of nearly 500 pages to the rich literary world that develops from the fusion of Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman traditions in the wake of the Conquest.

Additional Information

© 2018 Taylor & Francis. Published online: 08 Nov 2018. Book review of: Conquest and Transformation, the Oxford English Literary History volume 1: 1000-1350 by Laura Ashe, Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780199575381.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
February 9, 2024