Nickolas Gable Humanities and Social Science
Critical Reading and Skepticism in Anglo-Saxon England
The common imagination casts Medieval Europeans as victims of an era without skepticism in which the average person accepted superstition as fact. My research looks into the Early Medieval period in England and analyzes how various kinds of readers approached, questioned, and subsequently either accepted or refuted incredible claims. By looking at textual evidence within accounts of miracle as well as items of dubious canonicity, the intent is to expose and understand the multifaceted belief system of the Medieval Christian: one which allows for degrees of truth in miracle, doctrine, and scripture. The ultimate goal is to learn when and how Anglo-Saxon readers would have engaged in critical reading. This opens the door for further study of the ways in which texts can be understood from a broader Medieval perspective, and there are also implications for literary criticism as a whole, especially regarding the epistemological origins of the reader as an entity in modern scholarship.