This syllabus is subject to change. The latest version on this website is the binding syllabus.

Office: Bartlett 259
Office Hours: Wed and by appointment.
545-6598 | sharris@english.umass.edu

COURSE: English 502 is an introduction to the Old English language (its phonology, morphology, and syntax) and to Old English literature.

BOOKS: We will be using:

1) Mitchell & Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 6th edition (Blackwells); 2) J. R. Clark Hall, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th edition (University of Toronto, 1960); and 3) James Campbell et al., The Anglo-Saxons (Penguin, 1982).

Graduate students at UMass, please add the following: Roy Liuzza, ed. Old English Literature: Critical Essays. Yale UP, 2002.

There are a number of recommended readings. These are available in the library, or at any of the dozens of libraries in the vicinity. You need purchase none of these. I will also be providing numerous handouts, and we will be using Michael Drout's online grammar as a supplement to Sweet: King Alfred's Grammar.

All books are available at Amherst Books (formerly Atticus) on Main Street in downtown Amherst. Mount Holyoke course is here.

STRUCTURE: We begin with an introduction to the language of Anglo-Saxon England in the ninth century. You must be competent (or very quickly become competent) in English grammar. We will discuss various aspects of the language's syntax, morphology, phonology, and history. This will continue throughout the course. We will also translate and discuss Old English poems, saints' lives, wills, charters, and so forth. Finally, we will discuss briefly the culture of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages in order to contextualize the Old English texts.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Attendence is very strongly encouraged. Lectures and discussions provide much of the material for which you are responsible. I will not repeat a lecture, summarize a lecture, or provide anyone with my lecture notes. My lectures are copyrighted material. Any use of them in written, electronic, or recorded form without my prior consent is illegal.

ASSIGNMENTS: There is a midterm exam, a final exam, and a final paper. Graduate students are also responsible for a longer paper which engages secondary sources.

Midterm is 15%; final exam is 20%; and final paper is 65% of your total grade.

  • Papers must be handed in at the beginning of class on the date due. Late papers will not be accepted.
  • All missed assignments get an "F." If you foresee being absent, please let me know well beforehand.
  • Plagiarism gets an "F." This may be for the paper or for the course, at my discretion. Please check your student handbook and university or college guidelines for more on plagiarism.
  • All papers must be typed or word-processed.

GRADING: See Undergraduate Grading Policies.

CONFERENCES: Everyone is encouraged to meet with me at least once during the semester. I am usually to be found in my office Wednesdays during my office hours. (Please let me know beforehand if you want to meet.) Otherwise, please make an appointment to meet with me at a time convenient to you and I will try to oblige.

Mount Holyoke students will find me in Shattuck Hall on days we meet for this class.

ACADEMIC HONESTY: Each author's ideas, words, and phrasing are his or her own. If you reproduce them without due recognition, then you have committed plagiarism. Plagiarism earns the harshest punishment any university can offer. If you have any question whatsoever about whether you might be committing plagiarism, please consult me immediately. On the whole, the university expects you to act and write with the highest degree of integrity. For more information, consult your handbook or the pages in this site devoted to plagiarism (see "Resources").

NOTE 1: Please make and keep a copy of all your assignments. That copy may be a disc copy. In case any difficulties arise with respect to misplaced assignments or with respect to discrepancies between your records and my own, I will accept the evidence of your computer system's dating function. For your own peace of mind, I suggest that you lock any document on the day it is due. That will prevent your system from associating your document with a later date.

NOTE 2: The schedule of this course is subject to change. It is not to be construed as a substitute for your attendance or as a catalogue of all the information for which you are responsible. All changes will be announced beforehand. This syllabus and the accompanying schedule constitute a binding contract between a student and professor. If you do not agree with any of the provisions set herein and as of this moment, then you are free to drop this class within the time allotted by the administration.

NOTE 3: All material pertaining to this course--namely handouts, quizzes, exams, tests, maps, graphs, charts, printed matter, recorded matter, electronic matter including but not limited to this syllabus and associated electronic documents, films, video clips, conversations, office consultations, classroom responses, lectures, asides, answers to classroom queries, and related utterances--is copyrighted material and is subject to international and US laws of copyright. Enrollment in this course constitutes tacit acceptance of this agreement and of the copyright claims made therein. Any breach of this agreement or use of copyrighted material by any member of the university or the public without prior consent will be met with wrathful and immediate legal action.