EN5602: Pre-Conquest English
(part of the MA in Medieval Studies)

This course is designed to provide students with the expertise necessary to read Old English poetry and prose in the original language at a level sufficient to allow literary and historical analysis. Depending upon the students’ previous experience of the language, the course starts with a more or less extensive review of Old English grammar, but the aim is to begin translating as soon as possible. The reading list will be adapted to the students’ interests. In the past, the texts covered have included:

The Battle of Maldon
The Battle of Brunanburh
The Husband’s Message
Maxims I
A selection of Exeter Book Riddles
Extracts from Andreas
Wulfstan’s Sermo Lupi
Extracts from The Wonders of the East

We usually meet for one hour per week in during both terms, but occasionally the course may be offered in one term only, in which case we meet for two hours per week. The amount of material covered depends upon the students’ experience and progress, but by the end of the course we should be covering the equivalent of 70-80 lines of poetry per week. As this is a Skills course, the emphasis is on translation skills, but we discuss literary and historical issues as they arise.

There is a 2-hour translation exam at the end of the course. We do quizzes to evaluate progress throughout the course.

Texts are provided on handouts, but students will need to purchase a dictionary (J. R. Clark Hall, ed., A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching 14 (1894; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1960)). It is also useful to own a grammar book. I recommend the following:

A Guide to Old English, eds. Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinsion, 7th edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).

Introduction to Old English, ed. by Peter S. Baker, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007)

Useful background reading might include:

Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Kevin Crossley-Holland. The Anglo-Saxon World. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1982.

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

Students are encouraged to join the Old English Reading Group to support their learning.

Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
Last updated 26 May, 2009 13:24