Advertisement

postmedieval

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 444–462 | Cite as

A hive of activity: realigning the figure of the bee in the mead-making network of Exeter Book Riddle 27

  • Helen Price
Article

Abstract

In dialogue with the recent movement toward more ecomaterialist analyses of environment in early medieval literature, the following essay engages with the methodology of Actor Network Theory to explore the network of interactions constructed in Exeter Book Riddle 27, usually solved as ‘mead.’ While the riddle clearly presents the processes of mead making and consuming, the figure of the bee appears to be strangely absent in the riddle’s construction of this mead-making process. Fulfilling Bruno Latour’s proclamation to ‘follow the actors,’ this essay argues that the behaviors, drives and characteristics of the bee are present in the interactions which take place between named actants and the riddle text as a whole. The riddle form opens up the mead-making/consuming network(s), emphasizing the bee actant’s presence in and influence on this transfer of energy.

References

  1. Attenborough, F.L., ed. and trans. 2006. The Laws of the Earliest Kings. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baeton, J., B. Jervis, D. de Vos and M. Waelkens 2013. Molecular Evidence for the Mixing of Meat, Fish and Vegetables in Anglo-Saxon Coarseware from Hamwic, UK. Archaeometry 4(6): 1150–1174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, J. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bierbaumer, P. and E. Wannagat 1981. Ein Neuer Lösungsvorschlag für ein altenglisches rätsel (Krapp–Dobbie 17). Anglia 99: 379–382.Google Scholar
  5. Bitterli, D. 2009. Say What I Am Called: The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book and the Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blaylock, I. and T. Richards 2009. Honey Bees: Colony Collapse Disorder and Pollinator Role in Ecosystems. Hauppauge, NY: Nova.Google Scholar
  7. Cameron, M.L. 1993. Anglo-Saxon Medicine. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark Hall, J.R. 1984. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. Toronto, Canada and London, UK: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, J.J., ed. 2012. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, J.J. and L. Duckert eds. 2013. Ecomaterialism. postmedieval 4(1): 1–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crane, E. 1983. The Archaeology of Beekeeping. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  12. Crane, S. 2013. Animal Encounters: Contacts and Concepts in Medieval Britain. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dobbie, E.V.K., ed. 1942. Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems. ASPR 6. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Duckert, L. 2012. Speaking Stones, John Muir, and a Slower (Non)Humanities. In Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects, ed. J.J. Cohen, 273–280. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books.Google Scholar
  15. Ellard, D.B. 2011. Going Interspecies, Going Interlingual, and Flying Away with the Phoenix. Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 23(3): 268–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frith, J., R. Appleby, R. Stacey and C. Heron 2004. Sweetness and Light: The Chemical Evidence of Beeswax and Tallow Candles at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire. Medieval Archaeology 48: 220–228.Google Scholar
  17. Field, J. 1972. English Field Names: A Dictionary. Newton Abbot, UK: David and Charles.Google Scholar
  18. Galloway, P. 2006. Material Culture and Text: Exploring the Spaces Within and Between. In Historical Archaeology, eds. M. Hall and S.W. Silliman, 42–64. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Garner, L.A., K. Miller, C. Crimmins and R. Underhill 2011. ‘A Swarm in July’: Beekeeping Perspectives on the Old English Wið Ymbe Charm. Oral Tradition 26(2): 355–376.Google Scholar
  20. Hagen, A. 1995. A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink Production and Distribution. Norfolk, UK: Anglo-Saxon Book.Google Scholar
  21. Hooke, D. 2010. Trees in Anglo-Saxon England: Literature, Lore and Landscape. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer.Google Scholar
  22. Jenkins, D., ed. and trans. 1986. The Law of Hywel Dda: Law Texts of Medieval Wales. Llandysul, Wales: Gomer.Google Scholar
  23. Jervis, B. 2011. A Patchwork of People, Pots and Places: Material Engagements and the Construction of ‘The Social’ in Hamwic (Anglo-Saxon Southampton), UK. Journal of Social Archaeology 11(3): 239–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ker, N.R. 1957. Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon. Oxford, UK: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  25. Kienze, B. 2006. The Bestiary of Heretics: Imaging Medieval Christian Heresy with Insects and Animals. In A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics, eds. P. Waldau and K.C. Patton New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Krapp, G.P. and E.V.K Dobbie eds. 1936. The Exeter Book, ASPR 3. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Lapidge, M. and L. Rosier 1985. Aldhelm: The Poetic Works. Cambridge, UK: Brewer.Google Scholar
  28. Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Law, J. 1992. Notes on the Theory of the Actor-Network: Ordering, Strategy, and Heterogeneity. Systems Practice 5(4): 379–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Leary, J., G. Brown, J. Rackham, C. Pickard and R. Hughes 2004. Tatberht’s Lundenwic: Archaeological Excavations in Middle Saxon London. Pre-Construct Archaeology Monograph 2. Surrey, UK: Pre-Construct Archaeology.Google Scholar
  31. Low, M. 2009. ‘Heard Gripe Hruson’ (The Hard Grip of the Earth): Ecopoetry and the Anglo-Saxon Elegy. Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 42(3): 1–18.Google Scholar
  32. Miller, K. 2014. ‘The Lexicon of Slavery in Old English’. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Leeds.Google Scholar
  33. Neville, J. 1999. Representations of the Natural World in Old English Poetry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Niles, J.D. 2006. Old English Enigmatic Poems and the Play of the Texts. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Olsen, B. 2010. In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects. Plymouth, UK: AltaMira.Google Scholar
  36. Osborn, M. 2005. ‘Skep’ (Beinenkorb, *beoleap) as a Culture-Specific Solution to Exeter Book Riddle 17. ANQ 18(1): 7–18.Google Scholar
  37. Parikka, J. 2010. Insect Media: An Archaeology of Animals and Technology. Minneapolis, MN and London, UK: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  38. Randle, J.T. 2009. The ‘Homiletics’ of the Vercelli Book Poems: The Case of Homiletic Fragment I. In New Reading in the Vercelli Book, eds. A. Orchard and S. Zacher, 185–224. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  39. Richards, J.D. 1992. Anglo-Saxon Symbolism. In The Age of Sutton Hoo: The Seventh Century in North Western Europe, ed. M. Carver, 131–148. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer.Google Scholar
  40. Robb, J. 2010. Beyond Agency. World Archaeology 42(4): 493–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rudd, G. 2007. Greenery: Ecocritical Readings of Late Medieval English Literature. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rust, M.D. 1999. The Art of Beekeeping Meets the Art of Grammar: A Gloss of Columcille’s Circle. Philological Quarterly 78(4): 359–386.Google Scholar
  43. Scarborough, C. 2013. Inscribing the Environment: Ecocritical Approaches to Medieval Spanish Literature. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schacker, M. 2008. A Spring without Bees. Guildford, CT: Lyons.Google Scholar
  45. Siewers, A. 2009. Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Steel, K. 2011. How to Make a Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Storms, G. 1948. Anglo-Saxon Magic. The Hague, The Netherlands: M. Nijhoff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Whitman, F.H., ed. 1982. Old English Riddles. Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Federation for the Humanities.Google Scholar
  49. Williamson, C. 1983. A Feast of Creatures: Anglo-Saxon Riddle-Songs. London: Scholar.Google Scholar
  50. Zupitza, J., ed. 1877. Cynewulf’s Elene, mit einum Glossar herausgegeben von Julius Zupitza. Berlin, Germany: Weidmann.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Price
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English, University of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations