Addressing Jewish Alterity in the Literature of Anglo-Saxon England
Historical evidence suggests that Jews did not arrive in England until circa 1071, so most pedagogical discussions about Jews in early English society focus on texts produced by Anglo-Saxon Christians. The Jew was utilized by these authors both as a valorized, pious exemplar and as a demonized, elemental devil. To reconcile this contradiction in the college classroom, instructors must develop their students’ knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon period in conjunction with the ideation of Jewish alterity within it. Anglo-Saxon texts in translation—namely, Judith, Daniel, Exodus, Genesis A and B, and Elene—can be used to shape students’ foundational understanding of the Anglo-Saxon world and the Jews who inhabit its literary imagination.