EN3001: Creating Beowulf
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.
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
Jack, George (ed.), Beowulf: A Student Edition (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1994). [821
- this edition has marginal glossing, so it can speed up
- 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
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,
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
- an excellent collection of essays by top names in the
- Bjork, Robert E. and John D. Niles (ed.), A Beowulf Handbook
(Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996).
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- this essay changed Beowulf-studies irrevocably and still
offers insights today
- if you have not read it yet, you should do so now!