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2019 | 28/1 | 5-20

Article title

Subversive Holiness and the Building of a Christian Community in Cynewulf’s Juliana


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In Cynewulf’s Juliana, Juliana’s suitor Heliseus, called “the guardian of treasure,” represents secular material culture, in which women are weakened by the male control of materiality. The material culture of the heroic world reproduces the masculine body politic, reducing women to objects of exchange in contractual relationships between men. The present paper makes a case that from the poem emerges a contrast between a perception of materially constituted masculinity, aligning manhood with wealth and status, and a more inclusive spiritual manhood, available to both sexes. In relation to this Juliana achieves spiritual manhood as a miles Christi exampling how feminine holiness empowers women. Consequently Juliana’s emasculation of the devil becomes a challenge to the secular patriarchal order in which they are the currency of exchange.


  • Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań


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