Alger "Nick" Doane


Degrees and Institutions

  • PhD, University of Toronto, 1971

Doane retired in May 2006 after 35 years of teaching medieval studies at Madison. His specialty is Old English language, Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, and early medieval manuscripts. He maintains a very active program of research and publishing– in fact he now at last has time to get things done! He continues to lead his big collaborative project, “Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile,” which has a continuing grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities until June 2010. Volume 15, “Grammars,” for which Doane wrote the descriptions was published last year and this year Volume 16, containing “Materials relating to Dunstan, Aelfric, and Wulfstan, and the Eadwine Psalter Group” was published, the describers being P. J. Lucas (Cambridge) and Jonathan Wilcox (Iowa); Volume 17, “Homilies by Aelfric and other Homilies,” descriptions by Wilcox, will be published by the end of 2008. For 2009 three volumes are being readied: Vol. 18 “Manuscripts in France, exclusive of Paris,” describers P. J. Lucas and Angela Lucas, Vol. 19 “Saints’ Lives and Martyrologies, Rule of St. Benedict,” describer Doane, and Vol. 20, “Manuscripts in Switzerland” describer Joseph McGowan (Univ. of San Diego). Volumes to be released in 2010 (Vols. 21-23) are being prepared in collaboration with an international team by the co-editor, Matthew T. Hussey (Simon Fraser University), who received his Ph.D from the UW English Department in 2005. (By the way, a “describer” is the person who visits and personally examines the 10-12 manuscripts contained in a volume and writes up a detailed account of their unique physical characteristics and textual contents.)

Doane recently completed, with William P. Stoneman (Harvard), a book-length study of the illustrated Old English Hexateuch manuscript (British Library, Cotton Claudius B. iv): _Purloined Letters: the Reception of the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch in the Twelfth Century_. It has been accepted for publication by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and is currently in production. This book studies the vast corpus of Latin notes added in the late twelfth-century to the free spaces of this famous mid-eleventh century manuscript containing an important Anglo-Saxon translation of the Old Testament and a vast picture-cycle. Amongst these later notes is a corpus of astonishing “forged” Old English texts that were long thought to be early twelfth century copies of eleventh century originals, but which we show are actually texts that were concocted no earlier than 1180 and probably later and are part and parcel of the Latin annotations we argue were designed to give a false impression of the state of biblical learning in Canterbury in the previous Anglo-Saxon period.

Doane is working on another project which he hopes to conclude about Easter 2009: a thorough revision of his first book, the edition of Genesis A, a long poetic paraphrase of Genesis 1-22 written in the style of heroic poems such as Beowulf. This is under contract to ACMRS as well.

Since retiring, Doane has also written one article and four book reviews, published or at press, and he has given six papers at professional meetings and two in the community.

He hopes to have all of the above cleared away by summer 2009 so he can get back to work on another book project, now about half-completed but mostly postponed during 2008, on “English in the Twelfth Century,” a look at the surviving evidence for writing in English from manuscript and paleographical perspectives during its post-Conquest decline, in order to explore the different educational, cultural and political uses it was put to in this period.

For fun Doane keeps up with his children and grandchildren, reads, gardens, cooks, bikes, works out, and will travel anywhere to see an opera.

Recent Books