Old English Literature
The best-known and most-read work of Old English literature without doubt is Beowulf, and this Old English epic is the central text for this course. Topics to be examined are e.g. the nature of the hero, the pagan/Christian dichotomy, the role of women, orality and literacy, the Other as monster, re-composing and appropriating earlier tales, etc. Before study of the poem proper begins, the course briefly acquaints students with some Anglo-Saxon elegiac literature (e.g. The Wanderer, The Seafarer) and battle poetry (e.g. The Battle of Maldon, The Battle of Brunanburh), since both elegiac and martial motifs are woven together in the epic. If time allows, the course concludes with a brief survey of some modern-day retellings of the epic (e.g. The Tower of Beowulf) and their political/ideological biases. Prerequisite: ENGL 340.