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EN3001: Creating Beowulf

Summer Reading List 2017-18

Course tutor: Jennifer Neville

Please visit the Moodle site for the course, which already contains the material below and more.  

Homework for the summer:

  • find and read Beowulf in at least three different translations.  Think about (and take notes about) what the translator has achieved (and failed to achieve).
  • find, read, and ponder some adaptions of Beowulf.  There are a few online ones already on the Moodle site.  If you find any more good ones, let me know, and I’ll add them to the list so we can all look for them.

Course Textbooks:

You may choose any one of these three editions of Beowulf.  You do not have to buy all three!

Students with less experience in translating may wish to use:

Jack, George (ed.), Beowulf: A Student Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).  [821 BEO]

  • this edition has marginal glossing, so it can speed up translation
  • the marginal glosses can limit your choices and thus your interpretation of the text, so please consult other sources as well
  • the introductory material and bibliography are excellent

Another good choice is:

Mitchell, Bruce and Fred C. Robinson (eds), Beowulf: An Edition with Relevant Shorter Texts (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998).

  • this is a fairly recent edition aimed at students
  • it contains excellent supporting essays, relevant texts for comparison, a full glossary, and useful notes
  • as the glossary contains only these two editors’ choices for translation, please consult other sources to give yourself a fuller range of choices

The authoritative, scholarly edition of our poem is:

Fulk, R. D., Robert E. Bjork, and John D. Niles, eds, Klaeber's Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburh, 4th edn (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2008)

Recommended Reading:

During the course, you will probably be looking to read articles about specific ideas in the poem.  It is therefore a good idea to give yourself a good grounding in the poem as a whole before you start.  You are not required to buy any of these, but you may well want to have one that you make your own.

  • Baker, Peter S., ed., The Beowulf Reader, Basic Readings in Anglo-Saxon England 1, Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1431 (New York and London: Garland, 2000).  [821 BEO/B]
    - an excellent collection of essays by top names in the field
  • Bjork, Robert E. and John D. Niles (ed.), A Beowulf Handbook (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996).  [821 BEO/B]
    - affordable now that it is out in paperback
    - even if it remains too expensive to buy, it is definitely worth looking at again and again, as it summarises the trends of criticism in a large number of important topics.
  • George, Jodi-Anne, Beowulf: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) 
    - inexpensive and recent overview of critical views of the poem
  • Godden, Malcolm and Michael Lapidge (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).  [821.9 CAM]
    - excellent collection of essays written by top names in the field
  • Joy, Eileen and Mary K. Ramsey, eds, The Postmodern Beowulf: A Critical Casebook (Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2006)
    - a bit more recent than Bjork and Niles
    - more emphasis on theory.
  • Mitchell, B. and Fred C. Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 7th edn. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).  [429.5 MIT]
    - an indispensable guide to OE grammar.
  • Orchard, Andy, A Critical Companion to Beowulf (Cambridge: Brewer, 2003).  [821 BEO/O]
    - authoritative, highly recommended
  • Tolkien, J. R. R., ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’, Proceedings of the British Academy 22 (1936): 245-95, repr. in An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism (Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963), pp. 51-103 [821 BEO/N]; also repr. in Modern Critical Interpretations: Beowulf, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987) [821 BEO]; and elsewhere.
    - this essay changed Beowulf-studies irrevocably and still offers insights today
    - if you have not read it yet, you should do so now!

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