E 395N • Old English
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
The earliest vernacular compositions in English, dating from the seventh century to some decades beyond the Norman Conquest in the eleventh, are our sources for Old English, aka Anglo-Saxon. In this course we will learn how to read them with healthy scepticism and an on-line concordance. We will begin with the prose and read extracts from travelogues, chronicles, translations from Latin, and saints' lives. We will do some transcription from facsimiles of manuscripts to discover what editors put in and leave out in producing texts. We will spend most of the course reading the most-studied verse compositions, including The Wanderer and The Seafarer, heroic poems like The Battle of Brunanburh, The Battle of Maldon, and The Dream of the Rood, possibly some riddles and Biblical epic. Daily translation, homework exercises, grammar quizzes as necessary, a midterm exam covering prepared translations, and a final exam or special project.
J. C. Pope and R. D. Fulk, Eight Old English Poems (Norton, 2001).
Frederic G. Cassidy and Richard N. Ringler, Bright's Old English Grammar and Reader (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1971), 3rd edition, second corrected printing.
This old textbook, our starting point, contains more philological information than anyone needs to absorb in one semester and will introduce you to a wide variety of useful material.