Double Agents

Women and Clerical Culture in Anglo-Saxon England

Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing

Double Agents

Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing

Distributed for University of Wales Press

256 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2009
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780708321836 Published February 2010 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
E-book $85.00 ISBN: 9780708322321 Will Publish October 2019 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

First published in 2001, Double Agents was the first book-length study of women in Anglo-Saxon written culture that took on the insights provided by contemporary critical and feminist theory, and it quickly established itself as a standard. Now available again, it complicates the exclusion of women from the historical record of Anglo-Saxon England by tackling the deeper questions behind how the feminine is modeled, used, and made metaphoric in Anglo-Saxon texts, even when the women themselves are absent.


Series Editor’s Preface


Acknowledgements, 2001

List of Abbreviations


1        Patristic Maternity: Bede, Hild and Cultural Procreation

2        Orality, Femininity and the Disappearing Trace in Early Anglo-Saxon England

3        Literacy and Gender in Later Anglo-Saxon England

4        Figuring the Body: Gender, Performance, Hagiography

5        Pressing Hard on the ‘Breasts’ of Scripture: Metaphor and the Symbolic


Review Quotes
Karma Lochrie, Indiana University

“Whether they are interrogating the scholarly narrative of Cædmon as the ‘father of English poetry,’ investigating the historical record for feminine literacy or considering the female saint’s body, both real and metaphorical, Lees and Overing apply crucial pressure to some of the most common assumptions about Anglo-Saxon culture.”

Stephanie Hollis, University of Auckland

Double Agents is an innovative and provocative study, adventurous in its choice of texts and stimulating in its lively and detailed engagement with them. The authors’ exploration of the complex relation of the feminine, orality and literacy will undoubtedly influence the direction of future critical enquiry.”

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