Formulas: Memory

Relational memory as well as short-term memory could be important in the consumption of oral texts. Relational memory ties together all the things and images that are happening at the time of a certain event. Gillian Overing argues that the repetition of certain objects in the poem serve to tie different events together. Taking the object "cup", she traces a thread through six passages.

  1. Hrothgars retainers boast over their cups. "ealowaege" (ale-cup, l. 481)
  2. The Geatish warriors join in comradely drinking. "hroden ealowaege" (decorated ale-cup, l. 495)
  3. Weahltheow, queen of the Danes, bears a cup signifying sharing and unity. "sincfato" (precious cup, l. 622)
  4. Hrothgar and Hrothulf share a cup in what the listener knows is only transitory friendship. "medoful" (cup, l. 1015)
  5. Weahltheow offers cup to Hrothgar, reminding him to be cautious and not let Beowulf gain too much power over the Danes. "fulle" (cup, l. 1169)
  6. Weahltheow then offers the cup to Beowulf in a diplomatic gesture intended to avoid future conflict with him. "ful" (cup, l. 1192)

By establishing this chain of events, the theme of diplomacy, kinship, and amity is knitted deeper into the listeners' minds. An analogous process in cyberspace is spatial memory since, as the term "cyberspace" denotes, hypertext is necessarily more visual. Visual objects such as banners, icons, and font sizes help orient the reader in the hypertextual space. They serve as markers in a virtual space so that readers can create spatial maps in their memories.

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