Emily Thornbury is Associate Professor of English at Yale University. She studies Old English and Anglo-Latin, focusing especially on the aesthetics of Latin and vernacular cultures. She's the author of Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England, a study of the various communities and identities from which Anglo-Saxon poets emerged. She is also the co-editor with Rebecca Stevenson of the volume of essays, Latinitity and Identity in Anglo-Saxon England.
We talked about her upcoming project on The Virtue of Ornament, which, she writes, “traces the non-classical largely untheorized aesthetic principles of Anglo-Saxon art and literature through a series of productive encounters with classical forms. Ornament, understood in classical aesthetics mainly as an extraneous overlay or elaboration but by Anglo-Saxons as a transformative act, provides an entryway into a world of thought in which the surface into depth, proportion, symmetry and value itself had very different meanings. By understanding how ornament works for the Anglo-Saxons, we can glimpse alternative ways of reading, seeing, and understanding art.”