Lecture: “Defining the Anglo-Saxon World: The Making of Joseph Bosworth’s Dictionary”
Dabney Bankert (James Madison University)
Sponsored by the Dictionary of Old English and the Centre for Medieval Studies
Abstract: Of all the misconceptions we hold about the making of Joseph Bosworth’s Anglo-Saxon dictionary, one of the most tenacious is that Bosworth, like Samuel Johnson, was its “author.” In fact, he was a dedicated opportunist with an entrepreneurial flair for enlisting the talents of scores of scholars, antiquarians, and gentlemanly lexical dabblers. Two men to whom he owes uniquely significant debts―Joseph Webb and C.H. Stahl―have remained virtually if not entirely unknown; examining their contributions raises important questions about a mythology of the dictionary’s origins disseminated by nineteenth-century reviews and obituaries.
Reception to follow.