Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Diana Dominguez

Second Advisor

Dr. Javier Martinez

Third Advisor

Dr. John Newman


Throughout the more than two centuries of scholarship on Beowulf scholars have engaged in a consistent controversy in interpretation revolving around the issue of Christian versus pre-Christian content in the poem. While scholars largely agree that the understanding of the poem depends on understanding this content, scholars still widely disagree on what that understanding should be. The history of this problem is summarized, moving from viewing the poem as primarily pre-Christian, to general agreement that it is primarily Christian, to the current climate of viewing the text as hybridization. The thesis then proposes that, following the theories of Michel Foucault and Gayatri Spivak, the poem is best understood when the presence of Christianity is seen as epistemic violence: the erasure of one episteme by the invasion of another episteme, as part of an exercise of social power.


Copyright 2018 Joseph W. Krippel. All Rights Reserved.