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Grant number like: FA-251516-17

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Benjamin A. Saltzman
California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA 91125-0001)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018

Secrecy and Divinity in Early English Literature

A cultural and intellectual history of secrecy and concealment in early medieval England (600-1100).

For medieval Christians, the experience of secrecy was inextricably tied to the belief that God knows all human secrets and that God’s secrets remain fundamentally unknowable to human beings. This double-edged conception of secrecy and divinity profoundly affected the ways in which believers acted and thought as subjects under the law, as religious within monasteries, and as readers before books. In Bonds of Secrecy--a cultural and intellectual history of secrecy and concealment in England between the years 600 and 1100--I argue that two of the period’s major institutions (secular law and monastic life) produced a culture of scrutiny that relied heavily upon and sometimes came into tension with this belief in God’s omniscience, shaping the ethics of literary interpretation in the process.