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Updated on:
9/6/17

 

E 313: OLD ENGLISH

Notes

 

As you begin to memorize Old English words, start with closed-class words: conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions, and articles. They are not a lot. You may want to make a chart like this:

[th]aer
1
conj
there (adv.)
swa
2
conj
as (adv.)
aer
21
conj
before (adv., prep.)
ac
56
conj
but
nu
59
conj
now (adv.)
o[th][th]e
155
conj
or
gif
160
conj
if

To which you can add ond, eac, [th]eah, etc (see Mitchell and Robinson § 184).

VII.2017 Here is Sweet's Reader. Here is the Grammar Sheet ("magic sheet"). PDF versions of (almost) all the texts we are translating this term will be made available on-line. Here they are in one place:

VII.2017 Vocabulary that I teach you comes from a word frequency analysis of the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records. Click here for a list of the most frequently used words in Old English poetry.

VII.2017 Final Paper is due by 15 Dec., 4 p.m. (The University requires me to have my grades in almost immediately, so I will not accept any more papers after that.) The final paper (as the syllabus says) is worth 30% of your grade.

Resources:

Topics:

    Topic One. Translate and comment on a short Old English poem or a 25-line portion of a long poem. Comments include an overview of the major issues in the critical history of the poem, grammatical commentary, and etymological commentary. A great guide is Amodio. Also check Greenfield & Calder and Fulk & Cain. For even more, register for free and search the bibliography of the OEN.

    Topic Two. Describe the major issues in the critical history of a poem. Check Amodio, Greenfield & Calder, and Fulk & Cain. A good edition of the poem will have a helpful introduction. For more, register for free and search the bibliography of the OEN. Use the critical history to contextualize your own view. (Where do you fit into the conversation?) Then, add your views on one small, specific, detailed aspect of a poem.

    Topic Three. Discuss one or more translations of an Old English poem. Compare the translation(s) to the original Old English. Using a good dictionary (the Dictionary of Old English or Bosworth-Toller) to ground your view, discuss the effects of the translator's choices on your experience of the poem. For background on your poem, register for free and search the bibliography of the OEN.

    Topic Four. Discuss one or more versions of an Anglo-Saxon story or the Anglo-Saxon world—movies, plays, comic books, video games, and so forth. Focus on one or two small details. Describe the effect that the modern version has on our view of Anglo-Saxon England or the early Middle Ages. Avoid simple-minded complaints that so-and-so got it wrong—your role as a literary anthropologist is not to judge but to describe the effects of an interpreter's choices.

    Your own topic. You must check with me before you write. Get confirmation by 30 November. I will not accept a paper whose topic I have not authorized.