The Nature of the Hero (World Literature Essay)

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RUNE: In a writing system designed to be scratched or carved on a flat surface such as wood or stone, the individual letters are known as runes. Typically, these markings have few or no curves, circles, or dots, but instead, each mark consists of a number of straight cuts or strokes. (The strokes may, however, involve complex combinations of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines.) Runic writing systems tend to appear in areas where paper or parchment are scarce or unknown or where ink is commonly unavailable. Typical runic marks might indicate ownership of a house or object, they may be magic spells designed to be cut or scratched on a shield as a pagan protective charm, and they may mark boundary stones. It is accordinly rare to find lengthy literary writings done in runes--which naturally tend to force brevity upon the communicant given the effort involved in cutting or carving them. Runes were common among ancient and medieval inhabitants of Scandinavia, the continental Germanic tribes, and among the Anglo-Saxons who invaded Britain. By the High Middle Ages, parchment, pen, and ink had largely displaced the runic writing systems. Contrast with markings among the Celts.

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REVERDIE (French, "re-greening" with possible pun on reverie): A Old French of poetry popular in the 1300s, in which the poetic speaker meets a conventional woman of great beauty--and often with supernatural power--who personifies the spring season, sexual fecundity, and verdant nature. In later ballads, a conventional encounter with the god of Love became another component of the genre. The lyrics of the reverdie were often set to music, and they may have functioned as dance-songs (Shipley 478). Typically, the poem or song would consist of five or six stanzas without a refrain, with a structure similar to a (Cuddon 792).

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RECEPTION THEORY: A variant of reader response theory that emphasizes how each individual reader has a part in receiving (i.e, interpetting) the text. German scholar Hans-Robert Jauss in the late 1960s was the primary advocate. The central concern in this theory is called a "horizon of expectation," i.e., that a reader's experience of textual meaning will dramatically alter depending on the time and place of the reader. This idea contrasts radically with the New Historicists or biographical critics who argue that textual meaning will dramatically alter depending on the time and place the author wrote the work.) is available here.

Joan London, Gilgamesh, 2001