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This course in Old English Literature -- excluding Beowulf -- will be conducted in modern English, though our texts will all be in the original Old English language.  For those who are wondering whether it will fit their agenda and whether or not the prerequisite course (ENGL/LING 4060/6060 Old English) is really required, here's some help: if you can understand the following paragraph at least in part and could translate it quickly enough with a glossary/dictionary, you're good.  If not, you should consider another option for Spring 2018:

Sixtigum wintrum ær þam þe Crist were acenned, Gaius Iulius Romana Kasere mid hund ehtatigum scipum gesohte Brytene, þer he wes ærost geswenced mid grimmum gefeohte, and micelne dæl his heres forlædde.  And þa he forlet his here abidan mid Scottum and gewat into Galwalum and þer gegadorode six hund scipa mid þam he gewat eft into Brytene.  And þa hi ærost togedore geræsdon, þa man ofsloh ðes Caseres gerefan, se wes Labienus gehaten.  Ða genamon þa Walas and adrifon sumre ea ford ealne mid scearpum pilum greatum innan þam wetere; sy ea hatte Temese.  Þa þæt onfundon ða Romani, þa noldon hi faron ofer þone ford.  Þa flugon þa Brytwalas to þam wudufæstenum, and se Kasere geeode wel manega hehburh mid mycelum gewinne and eft gewat into Galwalum.

This paragraph, from the "Prologue" to the Peterborough manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is in the 3rd lesson from the Old English textbook I'm using for the Fall Semester course which is currently underway. By the way, it describes Julius Caesar's campaign to colonize the island of Britain in the mid 1st century BCE. 

If you're able to make something coherent out of the paragraph above -- or if you're already familiar with it, as many prospective student will be -- then this course may be just what you're looking for. The course will be conducted as a hybrid combination of class meetings, virtual meetings, online assignments, in-office tutorials, and independent research. I anticipate the class meeting once a week for the first 3 weeks of the semester, then once every other week for the rest of the term, with individual guided research being the primary activity.  Students will be asked to choose one of the readings indicated below and conduct individual research, on a topic decided in dialogue with the instructor, with occasional interim oral/written reports leading to a final term paper and oral examination concerning the text at then end of the semester.

The course material will be described in greater detail below.


The required reading material, from the textbook indicated below, represents about an even split between Old English literary prose and poetry.  I can't specify exactly when the readings will be due, but roughly the first half of the course -- weeks 1-7 -- will be devoted to prose, and the remaining 8 weeks to poetry.


There will be occasional written translation exercises, possibly a mid-term exam, and a research paper final.


Half of the grade will be derived from the research final; the other graded assignments -- few though they may be -- will be averaged for the other half of the final course grade.


Attendance is strongly encouraged.  Excessive absences have their own implicit deleterious effects on performance and consequently on grades.


The readings come from the 2017 working copy of my An Introduction to Old English, in the section called "Advanced Readings," as listed below.  

  1. Bede's Description of Britain
  2. Bede's account of the Anglo-Saxon Migration
  3. Bede's account of the Conversion of Edwin 
  4. Bede's account of the Poet Cædmon
  5. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Cynewulf and Cyneheard 
  6. The Treaty of Wedmore 
  7. The Restoration of Peterborough Abbey 
  8. Parker Chronicle Annal 1001 
  9. The Peterborough Chronicle: Fire in Peterborough 
  10. The Peterborough ChronicleMutilation of the Moneyers 
  11. The Peterborough ChronicleAbbot Henry of Poitou and The Wild Hunt
  12. The Alfredian Preface to the Cura Pastoralis: On The Tools of Learning
  13. The Alfredian Preface to the Consolatione Philosophiae: On The Tools of Statecraft 
  14. The Alfredian Preface to the Soliloquium: On the Tools of Learning
  15. Ælfric’s Preface to the Grammar 
  16. Maxims II
  17. The Wanderer 
  18. The Wife’s Lament 
  19. The Battle of Brunanburh 
  20. The Battle of Maldon
  21. The Dream of the Rood
  22. The Ruin 

We will not translate and discuss all of these; selections and excisions will be made during the semester itself; but as indicated above, students will be asked to select one of these texts and make it their own for the purposes of independent research leading to a final term paper and oral exam on the text.  Many who are interested in the class may already have purchased the textbook for use in the prerequisite Old English course.  Versions earlier than the 2017 iteration may be used, but pagination and annotation differences, plus numerous editorial corrections appearing only in the 2017 version, make possession of the current copy an attractive option.  Privately printed through an subsidiary, the book can be ordered via Amazon's Create Space website, and a few extra copies remaining from a Fall 2017 bulk order may be acquired directly -- discounted from the retail price -- from the instructor.  

Makeup Policy

Missed assignments can be made up.  Consult with instructor.