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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2006


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35805 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
MEZ 1.204

Course Description

Traditionally Old English in the US and Canada has been taught as a year-long course, with a first fall semester of grammar, short prose texts read mostly with an eye to language practice, and a few poems of 300 lines or fewer, such as (to give them their modern titles) "The Wanderer" and "The Battle of Maldon." One semester is enough for many undergraduates and graduate students as well, but the spring semester in which all 3182 lines of Beowulf are translated, at the rate of about 300 lines a week tends to retain enough to run a class, and has done so here as a conference course when enrollment does not suffice. Universities including Yale, Toronto, Notre Dame, OSU, and others have offered a third semester of graduate-level Old English, though usually not every year. Such a course looks at other poems and prose texts, and also at the history of criticism not only from the usual literary-critical schools (including but not limited to source study, reception, feminist, cultural studies) but at problems of editing, implications of archaeological reports, and ongoing lexicographical and morphological problems. Most important, such a third course enables graduate students for whom Old English will be at least a part of their dissertation research to write a sustained research paper. I taught a third-semester course of this type in 1996, initiated by a graduate student who'd had a year of Old English in college, and have not asked to do so since. I have spoken with three students currently in coursework, and believe I could pick up two or three more from German, Linguistics, and possibly from an entering medievalist graduate student. I imagine that a couple of undergraduates or exchange students might also take it as an affiliated conference course; their paper requirements would be lighter. Description: There's more to Old English literature than Beowulf, as a glance at any volume of the Year's Work in Old English Studies will show. In this semester-long course we will read and translate one of the more substantial less-read texts (possibilities include Genesis and the complete Exeter Riddles in the poetry, and Ælfric's Catholic Homilies and the Parker Chronicle in the prose) to the end of each student writing a short but substantial and original paper that can be turned into a publishable article or note. We will also look at some very early and very late short texts to consider changes in Old English dialect, and look at ongoing developments in the use of databases.


To be determined fall of 2006, dependent on registrants


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