Formulaic FriÞuwebban: Reexamining Peace-Weaving in the Light of Old English Poetics

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Cavell, Megan. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 114, no. 3 (2015): 355–72.

This article studies the use of the word ‘FriÞuwebban’ in Old English poetics, which has widely been translated as a word for peace-maker. Megan Cavell identifies this word as a usually female archetypal figure. However, she questions the previously gendered analysis of the FriÞuwebbans, pointing towards formulaic data that illustrates the gender-neutrality of the word. Interestingly, she analyses previous scholarship to understand why this role has been understood as female, engaging with Sklute’s theory that ‘peace-weaver’ refers to the weaving in women’s daily work and Burton’s ideas on the relations between peace and marriage. The interest in this article lies not only in its discussion of the original nuances of the word, but also in its uncovering of the patterns of historical analysis which reaffirm the gendered notion of this role. The tendency of Old English scholars to identify the peace-maker as female speaks to wider ideas of gendered visualisations of peace and ‘peace-weaving’.

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