We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > English home > Information for current students > Undergraduate > DT3500 Sound and Movement in Anglo-Saxon Poetry
More in this section ReadingLists

DT3500 Sound and Movement in Anglo-Saxon Poetry

Summer Reading List


The best thing to do to prepare yourself for this course is to get to know the poems that we’ll be reading.  You should feel free to read widely, but these are the ones on which we’ll be concentrating:

  • Beowulf
  • Wulf and Eadwacer
  • the Exeter Book Riddles (especially numbers 12, 20, 25, 37, 44, 45, 54, and 61)

You will, of course, find these in many online translations.  Be wary: some of these are by keen but uninformed undergraduate students!  It’s a good idea to stick to published translations, at least to begin with.  You can find Beowulf in many different translations—explore a few.  For the shorter poems, here are some anthologies that you can buy or find in a library:

Bradley, S. A. J., trans., Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1982)

Crossley-Holland, Kevin, trans., The Anglo-Saxon World (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 1982)

David, Alfred and James Simpson, eds, The Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume A: The Middle Ages, 8th edn (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2006)

Delanty, Greg and Michael Matto, eds, The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, foreword by Seamus Heaney (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011)

Gordon, R. K., trans., Anglo-Saxon Poetry, rev. edn (London: Dent, 1954)

Hamer, Richard, ed. and trans., A Choice of Anglo-Saxon Verse  (London: Faber, 1970)

Kennedy, Charles W., trans., An Anthology of Old English Poetry  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960)

We will provide these texts (or selections from these texts) in Old English and in translation on Moodle once our site is set up.

Please read also the following two articles, which were supplied to you as handouts via email:

Halama, Alta Cools, 'Flytes of Fancy: Boasting and Boasters from Beowulf to Gangsta Rap', Essays in Medieval Studies, 13 (1996), 81-96

Dumitrescu, Irina A., ‘Verbal Dueling’, in Dragons in the Sky, ed. by Patrick W. Conner and Stuart Lee


More Things to Do Over the Summer

Things to Listen to:

·         Noise: A Human History


·         The Essay: Anglo-Saxon Portraits


- you don’t have to listen to all of them!  Choose what is of interest to you.

- you may wish to note the episode on ‘The Beowulf Bard’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Caedmon the Oldest Surviving English Poet’ by David Almond


Things to See:

·         West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village


·         The Museum of London’s Medieval Gallery


·         The Beowulf manuscript

- in the flesh at the British Library’s Sir John Ritblat Gallery

- or at http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/02/beowulf-online.html)

·         Look out for physical theatre or dance theatre performances in your area and try to see one or two examples of these live. Begin to analyse how vocal and movement performance is being brought together. What strategies are being used? Does text lead movement or vice versa? What does the movement contribute to your experience beyond the text? If you cannot see live productions you could browse on youtube. Some of the dancers or choreographers that might be interesting to look at are: DV8, Matthew Bourne, Pina Bausch, Jonathan Burrows with Matteo Fargion, Gecko Theatre Company, Frantic Assembly, Complicite, Analogue, Little Bulb and Jasmin Vardimon Company.


Things to Read:

Explore the online journal, Oral Tradition


You should especially look at volume 18.  It consists of short, 2-3 page discussions of various aspects and types of oral poetry.  The articles by Amodio, Creed, Garner, Maring, Orchard, Raffel, and Cochran struck me as particularly relevant, but please feel free to read widely (who knows what insights you might gain from reading about Japanese, Biblical, and Lithuanian oral literature?).



Here are a few other articles that you might find interesting:

Bagby, Benjamin, ‘Beowulf, the Edda, and the Performance of Medieval Epic:

Notes from the Workshop of a Reconstructed “Singer of Tales”’ [http://www.bagbybeowulf.com/background/PerformingMedNarr_13.pdf] 

Bessinger, Jess B., Jr., ‘The Sutton Hoo Harp Replica and Old English Musical Verse’, in Old English Poetry: Fifteen Essays, ed. by Robert P. Creed (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1967), pp. 3-26  [RH 821.1 CRE]

Clover, Carol J., ‘The Germanic Context of the Unferþ Episode’, Speculum, 55 (1980), 444-68  [on JStore]

Niles, John D., 'The Myth of the Anglo-Saxon Oral Poet', Western Folklore, 62 (2003), 7-61  [on JStore]

Nolan, Barbara and Morton W. Bloomfield, 'Beotword, Gilpcwidas, and the Gilphlæden Scop of Beowulf’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 79 (1980), 499-516  [on JStore]

Parks, Ward, 'Flyting, Sounding, Debate: Three Verbal Contest Genres', Poetics Today, 7.3 (1986), 439-58  [on JStore]






Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback