Toward a Ritual Poetics: Dream of the Rood as a Case Study


The notion of “ritual poetics” explored in this essay weds the findings of John Miles Foley’s immanent art to ritual theories of signification in order to show that some features of early medieval verse may carry a metonymic force linking the spoken or oral-related written word to the vivid, multilayered experience of ritualized situations. The hypothesis that ritual features, when integrated into oral-related poems, preserve their association with lived, emergent ritual processes is examined through close analysis of Dream of the Rood.

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