Beowulf: the First Great English Epic

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Beowulf: the First Great English Epic

<p>The first heroic epic to be written in vernacular English, <em>Beowulf</em> is a moving and beautiful narrative poem set in the early 6th century. Beowulf begins by battling the dread monsters who

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The first heroic epic to be written in vernacular English, Beowulf is a moving and beautiful narrative poem set in the early 6th century. Beowulf begins by battling the dread monsters who represent the evils that lay beyond the Great Hall and is victorious. But when he is an old king he is forced to fight a dragon from the depths all alone. This literary endeavour to reconcile ancient pagan beliefs within a new Christian paradigm laid the tracks for many creative works that followed. Join us to explore this story, the history of the text, and its cultural significance.


SUGGESTED READING
Beowulf, translation by Seamus Heaney or J.R.R. Tolkien


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Origins
  • Translations
  • Plot
  • Characters: human and supernatural
  • Values
  • Themes
  • Influence on later stories and art


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Outline the creation of the epic.
  2. Evaluate the various translations.
  3. Appreciate Beowulf as literature and as cultural artefacts.
  4. Discuss the narrative in relation to:
    • Characters
    • Events
    • Themes
    • Values
    • Writing style
    • Significance
    • Modern interpretations