Comparing nineteenth-century British and Australian Anglo-Saxonist literature enables a “decentered” exploration of Anglo-Saxonism’s intersections with national, imperial, and colonial discourses, challenging assumptions that this discourse was an uncritical vehicle of English nationalism and British manifest destiny. Far from reflecting a stable imperial center, evocations of “ancient Englishness” in British literature were polyvalent and self-contesting, while in Australian literature they offered a response to colonization and emerging knowledge about the vast age of Indigenous Australian cultures.

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