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Naked Before God

Edited by
Benjamin C. Withers and Jonathan Wilcox
PB: 978-0-937058-68-8
PDF  978-1-935978-37-4
PDF  (120 Days)


At different times and in different places, the human form has been regarded in different ways. The Ancient Greeks thought it was the most admirable subject for art, whereas early Christians often viewed it as lascivious in our post-lapsarian state. With illustrations taken from manuscripts, statuary and literary, this is a fascinating collection of essays with much that will be new to scholars and general readers alike.


  1. List of Illustrations
  2. List of Abbreviations
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Forward: Uncovering the Body in Anglo-Saxon England
      Benjamin C. Withers, Indiana University South Bend
  5. Introduction: Medieval Bodies Then and Now: Negotiating Problems of Ambivalence and Paradox
      Suzanne Lewis, Stanford University
  6. The Wanton Hand: Reading and Reaching Into Grammars and Bodies in Old English Riddle 12
      Sarah L. Higley, University of Rochester
  7. The Key to the Body: Unlocking Riddles 42-46
      Mercedes Salvador, Universidad de Sevilla
  8. The Body as Text in Early Anglo-Saxon Law
      Mary P. Richards, University of Delaware
  9. The Sacrificial Synecdoche of Hands, Heads, and Arms in Anglo-Saxon Heroic Story
      John M. Hill, United States Naval Academy
  10. Nudity on the Margins: The Bayeux Tapestry and Its Relationship to Marginal Architectural Sculpture
      Karen Rose Mathews, University of Washington
  11. The Donestre and the Person of Both Sexes
      Susan M. Kim, Illinois State University
  12. Exiles from the Kingdom: The Naked and the Damned in Anglo-Saxon Art
      Catherine E. Karkov, Miami University, Ohio
  13. Breasts and Babies: The Maternal Body of Eve in the Junius 11 Genesis
      Mary Dockray-Miller, Lesley University
  14. Penitential Nakedness and the Junius 11 Genesis
      Janet S. Ericksen, University of Minnesota—Morris
  15. Naked in Old English: The Embarrassed and the Shamed
      Jonathan Wilcox, University of Iowa
  16. Index


Benjamin Withers of Indiana University at South Bend and Jonathan Wilcox of University of Iowa have assembled one of the most talented groups of young scholars in the field of early medieval studies and asked them to present and explore the evidence for how the human form was regarded by the English before the Norman Conquest.


"Naked Before God introduced a refreshing sense of possibilities that are offered by focusing on the multivalence of the body. This is a timely, lively and eclectic collection; the essays complement each other and offer a good variety of perspectives. This is an attractive volume by virtue of the range of—and emphasis on—illustration, and because it provides the reader with some real and provocative choices of interpretations of key texts and images of the period."
Clare Lees, King’s College, University of London