English | Literatures in English to 1600
E301 | 2197 | Fulk

E301 2197 FULK
Literatures in English to 1600

2:30p-3:45p TR (30) 3 CR.


	The topic of this section will be the literature, language,
and culture of Anglo-Saxon England, the earliest period of English
history and literature. The primary focus of the course will be on
the close reading of English texts from the earliest times to the
later eleventh century, when the Normans put an end to the Anglo-
Saxon kingdoms. We will continually attempt to place these texts in
their cultural contexts, recovering the material conditions under
which they were produced and received in the Anglo-Saxon and later
periods.  We will, for example, study the nature of monastic life,
since the surviving texts in the Old English language were nearly
all produced by and for the use of religious people. To the extent
that it is possible, we will also try to recover the nature of Anglo-
Saxon literary reception by examining texts in their manuscript
contexts and by studying how oral literature and manuscript culture
differ from the modern experience of reading literature. Such close
study of Old English texts and their contexts will require a certain
amount of familiarity with the Old English language, and so there
will be considerably more language study in this course than is
usual in literary courses. A particular topic of study will be the
continually fruitful interaction of the native, martial Germanic
culture of the Anglo-Saxons with the Mediterranean influences that
arrived with Christianity at the end of the sixth century. Since
only fragments of the native literary traditions survive, in order
to understand early Germanic heroic literature we will need also to
examine some texts translated from other early Germanic languages,
such as the Old Icelandic eddas and sagas, the Old High German
Hildebrandslied, the Latin Waltharius, and some others. Finally, we
will also look at how the Anglo-Saxons and the texts they produced
have been perceived in later times, from the twelfth century to the
present, with emphasis on how successive periods have appropriated
the Anglo-Saxons for their own purposes, frequently remolding them
in their own image or an image that serves a particular cultural end.
	Readings for the course will probably include Beowulf,
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Boethius’
Consolation of Philosophy, selections from the two eddas, Njáls
saga, Hrafnkels saga, and a variety of shorter texts translated from
Old English and other languages. Students will also study a grammar
of the Old English language. Assignments will include two or three
examinations, a substantial course project demanding research in the
library, and several shorter writing assignments.