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Title: Eating words and burning them : the power of destruction in medieval English charm texts
Authors: Hindley, Katherine Storm
Keywords: Humanities::Language::English
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: De Gruyter
Source: Hindley, K. S. (2019). Eating words and burning them : the power of destruction in medieval English charm texts. In C. Kühne-Wespi, K. P. Oschema, & J. F. Quack (Eds.), Zerstörung von Geschriebenem (pp. 359-372). doi:10.1515/9783110629040-013
Abstract: When we think of text, we usually think of it as a form of communication. One person’s words, written down, can be transmitted across continents and centuries, for as long as the writing survives. Destroying that writing destroys, at least symbolically, the ideas it records—one reason that burning a book is seen as an act more violent than burning an equivalent amount of unmarked paper. This is not the only way, however, to think about text or about its destruction. In many cultures, both medieval and modern, texts can be seen as carrying physical or spiritual power, power that is not necessarily destroyed along with the text itself.1 Viewed in this way, the destruction of a text can serve a greater creative purpose by releasing and activating the power of the words it contains. In this paper I focus specifically on the destruction of charm texts in medieval England, exploring the variety of ways in which texts could be destroyed for healing purposes and pointing to two broad categories that imply different understandings of textual power. In one, the destruction of text serves to activate its power. In the other, destruction is the only way to limit its effect on the body.
ISBN: 978-3-11-062904-0
DOI: 10.1515/9783110629040-013
Rights: © 2019 Katherine Storm Hindley, publiziert von De Gruyter. Dieses Werk ist lizenziert unter der Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Lizenz.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Books & Book Chapters

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