Ph.D. – University of Notre Dame, 2008
M.A. – University of Notre Dame, 2003
B.A. – Brandeis University, 2001
Dr. Davis-Secord studies the interactions between language and social context in Anglo-Saxon England, analyzing how political, personal, and historical situations affect and are revealed by subtle linguistic choices. He currently concentrates on compound words, a frequently recognized but understudied staple of Old English literature. His first article, “Rhetoric and Politics: Nominal Compounds and Social Instability in Archbishop Wulfstan’s Old English Homilies,” shows how the eleventh century Archbishop employed compound words to call for social reform and strengthened national cohesion in the face of internal confusion and external attack. An important leader of the English church, Wulfstan strategically placed compounds of his own creation alongside compound-laden lists of sins at important points in his homilies in order to lend linguistic weight to his exhortations for reform.
Dr. Davis-Secord is also researching another article exploring how manuscript presentations can provide insight into Anglo-Saxon understandings of genre and textual structure. Comparing the presentations of the two Old English translations of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, one can find subtle differences in how the texts are broken up by decorated capital letters. These different textual organizations reveal a particular sensitivity to the presence of a certain type of nominal compound as the differentiation between prose and verse. Dr. Davis-Secord recently returned from a trip to England to examine in person the two manuscripts in question and is now preparing his article for publication.
“Rhetoric and Politics: Nominal Compounds and Social Instability in Archbishop Wulfstan’s Old English Homilies.” Anglia: Journal of English Philology 126, no. 1 (2008): 65–96.
Dr. Davis-Secord splits his teaching between the departments of English and Philosophy. Within the English department, he teaches the History of the English Language and courses on early British literature, and he teaches Intensive Beginning Latin and various Medieval Latin reading courses for the Philosophy department. He has particular interest in teaching medieval languages and in getting students to engage thoughtfully with medieval texts on many levels.
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