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Old English Reading Group

If you would like to practise reading Old English aloud and discuss it in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, please join us. Although OERG is a very good way to prepare for exams and assignments in EN1001 (Introduction to Medieval Literature), EN2008/3008 (Myths of Origin in Old English Literature), EN2319/3003 (Tolkien's Roots), EN5602 (Old English Skills), and EN5609 (Old English Riddles), we don't do any homework, we never talk about exams, we sometimes watch films, and we usually eat biscuits. All welcome!

Texts are provided. Recently we've read parts of The Battle of Maldon and several of the Exeter Book Riddles.  Previously we read quite a lot of Guthlac and Christ I, although we didn't reach the end of either, because we became too engaged with various issues and articles along the way! We've also read Gerefa, Deor The Fortunes of Men ,The Seafarer, parts of Beowulf, and Judith.

We are meeting during the summer term in MBS 0-02/3 on Thursdays 12-1.  Please email to confirm that the meeting is happening: j.neville@rhul.ac.uk.

We occasionally produce written translations from our discussions of the texts. These can be quite free, as they reflect the personal preoccupations and interests of members of OERG, as well as the compromises necessary in group work.

Our fifth OERG Summer Conference will take place on Saturday, 28 May 2016, from 11am - 5pm in IN243.  All welcome!  Please see the programme below, and, for more information, email Jenny Neville: j.neville@rhul.ac.uk.


11.00: Session 1 (chaired by Jenny Neville)

  • Pirkko Koppinen, 'Translating Beowulf into Finnish'
  • Tim Flight, title TBC

12.00: Session 2 (chaired by Corinne Dale)

  • Helen McKee, 'Some Curious Lemmata in Cotton Vespasian D6'
  • Linden Currie, 'Old English but to me it's Greek!'

1.00 Lunch (please bring your own)

2.00: Session 3 (chaired by Helen McKee)

  • Corinne Dale, 'Freolic, Sellic: An Ecofeminist Reading of the Exeter Book Riddles'
  • Jessica Allen, title TBC  (Dream of the Rood)

3.00: Session 4 (chaired by Pirkko Koppinen)

  • Neville Mogford, 'Heavenly bodies in the Bern Riddles and the Exeter Book Riddles'
  • Jenny Neville, 'Sorting Out the Rings: Astronomical Tropes in Exeter Book Riddle 4'

4.00 Drinks

Fourth OERG Summer Conference: 18 June 2015 

  • Pirkko Koppinen, ‘Materiality in Some Exeter Book Riddles’
  • Helen McKee, ‘Wales and Anglo-Saxon England: Fuzzy Boundaries’
  • Neville Mogford, ‘Counting down the days: Andreas and Rimcræft’
  • Linden Currie, ‘The Battle of Maldon - The Phrase wordum mælde - A Hidden Significance?’
  • Corinne Dale, ‘“Be sonde, sæwealle neah”: Place as Descriptor in the Exeter Book Riddles’
  • Jenny Neville, ‘Enigmatic Discourses in Riddle 49 (and Another New Solution)’

Third OERG Summer Conference: 4 June 2014 

  • Pirkko Koppinen, ‘Materiality and Old English Poetry’
  • Helen McKee, ‘Cotton Domitian A.1: A Window onto the World of an Anglo-Saxon Scribe’
  • Linden Currie, ‘Wulf and Eadwacer in Stereo’
  • Tim Flight, ‘Anglo-Saxon Eremiticism: Sources and Influence’
  • Corinne Dale, ‘Creation’s Resistance: An Approach to the Theme of Mastery in the Exeter Book Riddles’
  • Jenny Neville, ‘The Bookworm and the Chalice: Re-Riddling Riddle 47

Second OERG Summer Conference: 21 June 2013 

  • Tim Flight, 'The Seafarer'
  • Corinne Dale, 'Animal Afterlives in the Exeter Book Riddles'
  • Hannah O'Flanagan, 'Marginalised Women and Continuous Errror: Heroic Society within Beowulf'
  • Martha Baldon, 'Hands in the Old English Genesis'
  • Pirkko Koppinen, 'Musings on Museology: Gerefa as a Museum'
  • Jennifer Neville, 'Seeing is Believing: A Transcendental Signifier in Exeter Book Riddle 59'

First OERG Summer Conference: 17 June 2010 

  • Myfanwy Ashley, 'Translating Heart, Mind, and Soul in The Wanderer'
  • Rosie Holden, 'Maldon and Repetition'
  • Pirkko Koppinen, 'Mimic Men in Andreas'
  • Natash Lett, 'The Wineleas Wonsaelig Mon: A Lesson in Friendship'
  • Jennifer Neville, 'Shaking the Foundations: the Mock Heroic in the Old English Riddles'
  • Slaney Ross, 'The Finnsburh Episode and Richard II'


Jennifer Neville, Anna Milon, Jessica Allen, and Neville Mogford participated in a group performance of The Riming Poem along with staff and students form King's College London at the 5th London Anglo-Saxon Symposium on 12 March 2016.



Jennifer Neville, Corinne Dale, and Pirkko Koppinen presented papers on the Old English riddles at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in July 2015.

Jennifer Neville, Corinne Dale, Anna Milon, Andrew Millar, Helen McKee, and Harrison Morris participated in 'Sonic Illumination', a group translation and performance of the Riming Poem, along with staff and students of King's College London on 28 April 2015.

Jennifer Neville, Pirkko Koppinen, and Corinne Dale presented papers on the Exeter Book Riddles and material culture at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in July 2014.

Jennifer Neville and Pirkko Koppinen presented papers on Gerefa at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in July 2012.


Jennifer Neville and Pirkko Koppinen presented papers on the 'mock heroic' at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in July 2010.

Pirkko Koppinen, Pat Gillies, and Jennifer Neville presented papers on the Old English riddles at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo in May 2006.

Jennifer Neville presented a paper on Riddle 9 at the Medieval Academy in Boston in March 2006.


Jake Snyder presented a paper to OERG on 17 March 2005 entitled 'Style I Interlace and the Structure of Beowulf'.

Members of OERG contributed to a session on Old English Riddles at the 2004 Leeds conference entitled 'New Perspectives on the Exeter Book Riddles'. Jane Page presented 'Structures of Power in Some Exeter Riddles'. Mel Heyworth presented 'Moral Regulation or Moral Resistance: Gendered Discourse in the Exeter Book Riddles'. Pirkko Koppinen presented 'Runes, Swords, and Semiotics in the Exeter Book Riddles'.

Pirkko Koppinen presented a paper on 7 May 2004 entitled 'Ond seo Cwen Numen (And the Queen Taken): Feud and the Ambiguity of Hildeburg's Marriage'.

Mel Heyworth presented a preview of her paper on Exeter Book Riddle 4 on 23 April 2004.

Jane Page has given talks to literary societies and book clubs on many aspects of English literature, but especially mediaeval. These have been received with enthusiastic acclaim.

In 2003 we worked together on the Old English poem, Judith, and managed to produce (after many, many weeks) our translation and a session at the 2003 Leeds conference: 'Feminine Force in the Old English Judith'. Jane Page presented 'Wundenlocc: Power and Status in a Tangle of Hair'. Pirkko Koppinen presented 'Judith Masquerading as a Man: Mimickery as an Empowering Force in the Old English Poem Judith'. Jennifer Neville Presented 'The Jewel in its Setting: Judith and Gendered Language'.

Pirkko Koppinen presented a paper to OERG on swords and Exeter Book Riddle 20 in 2002.




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