Spring 2020 Undergraduate English Courses: Seminars

358:412 Seminar:Old English Language and Literature

01  MW5  CAC  28135   KLEIN  AB-3200

Old English Language and Literature: Beowulf
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. We will focus mainly on Beowulf, the longest surviving Old English poem, and a text that has been treated from almost every critical perspective imaginable. Inhabited by monsters, pagans, and a hero whose fame derives from both his handgrip and his kindness, Beowulf offers extraordinarily rich ground for exploring the language and culture of England before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Seamus Heaney’s prize-winning translation and Robert Zemeckis’s animated film have recently brought Beowulf into the midst of popular culture. However, Beowulf has occupied a central place in the canon of English poetry for quite some time and thus offers an excellent springboard for thinking about broader issues within 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. This course fulfills the AHp and WCr SAS Core goal.

Course requirements:
• Exam: in-class and take-home components (25%)
• 15 page paper to be completed in stages; paper grade will include prospectus, bibliography, close reading, rough draft and peer responses (50%)
• In-class translations, oral presentations, hard-word/response notebooks, response papers, and vigorous efforts to contribute to the intellectual life of the seminar (25%)