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Beowulf, peaceweavers, Levinasian ethical subjectivity, warrior ethos


This essay argues for a reading of Beowulf, and the female peaceweaver figures therein, in contemporary philosophical terms of Levinasian ethical subjectivity. Such a reading illuminates the peaceweaver, often caught between action and passivity and viewed as a victim of death-driven masculinist heroic culture, as an exemplar rather of the radical destabilization experienced through ethical subjection and an important key to the complexities of the heroic ethos. It illustrates the enduring value of texts such as Beowulf to inform our understanding of often oversimplified concepts like that of the “warrior ethos” in contemporary culture.