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Spring 2018 Undergraduate English Courses: Medieval

358:412 Seminar: Old English Language and Literature

01  MW4  CAC  11787  KLEIN  AB-3200

Old English Language and Literature: Anglo-Saxon Hagiography

This course is an intensive study of Old English, the language written and spoken in England from approximately 450 to 1100 AD. The seminar format will allow students the opportunity to develop skills in critical thinking and writing necessary for undertaking large-scale research projects in literary studies. Readings will focus mainly on Anglo-Saxon hagiographical narratives, or saints’ lives, one of the most popular genres of early medieval writings. These racy narratives of holy men, women, and animals (composed in both verse and prose) offer rich ground for exploring the language and culture of England before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Medieval hagiography was once dismissed by serious scholars of literature as non-literary, derivative (of Latin sources) and artistically lacking. Yet in recent decades, hagiography has come increasingly to the forefront of Anglo-Saxon studies and thus offers an excellent springboard for investigating broader issues in literary studies, such as why we read certain texts rather than others, what we hope to gain from reading, and how modern ideas about reading and interpretation might have differed from those held in earlier historical periods.