Updated on:


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




We meet T, 5:00 - 7:30 pm, in Bartlett 121.
(Campus Map.)

English 791 is an introduction to the Old English language (its phonology, morphology, and syntax) and to Old English literature. In this course you will learn the language and translate poetry from the original. The aim is to prepare you to teach Old English in an undergraduate survey course

My office is 259 Bartlett. Phone is 413-545-6598. Office hours are by appointment.


All handouts are here. Books to buy:

  • Hugh Magennis, Cambridge Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature (Oxford), ISBN 0521734657, $26.99;
  • Greg Delanty, Michael Matto, eds. The Word Exchange (Norton, 2012), ISBN 0393342417. $18.95.
  • Peter Baker, Introduction to Old English, 3rd edition (Blackwell), ISBN 047065984X. $37.00. The book is also free on-line here.
  • J. R. Clark-Hall. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Toronto, 1984) ISBN 0802065481. $30.95 ($19.30 on Amazon).
  • Stanley Greenfield & Daniel J. Calder, A New Critical History of Old English Literature (NYU, rpt. 1996), ISBN 0814730884, $25.00.

All books are available at Amherst Books on Main Street in downtown Amherst.

We will read Michael Drout's online grammar: King Alfred's Grammar. You need not own Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge, The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (Cambridge, 1991); but, it is an excellent resource comprised of top-notch essays.

NB. Your priority in this class is to understand the language. Everything else is commentary. So, please make sure to have Baker as soon as possible. If you choose not to buy the physical book, a virtual book is free on-line here.


We begin with an introduction to the language of Anglo-Saxon England in the ninth century. You must be competent in English grammar (here is a good, short book on English grammar; Baker has a chapter on 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. Finally, we will discuss briefly the culture of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages in order to contextualize the Old English texts.


Attendence is required. 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.


There is a final project (60%), and 8 translations (40%). We will be translating in class.


Everyone is encouraged to meet with me at least once during the semester, if only to verify that the grades you have correspond to the ones in my gradebook. I am usually to be found in my office TTh. (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.


The university expects you to act and write with the highest degree of integrity. For more information, consult your handbook.


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 is copyrighted material and is subject to international and US laws of copyright. No recording devices, please.


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To search the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, click here.

Academic Schedule


UMass Library
Google Books
Search Anglo-Saxon Poetry
Old English Newsletter Bib
Anglo-Saxon Bibliography

Germanic Lexicon Project
Bosworth-Toller (partial)
Thesaurus of Old English

The Labyrinth
Medieval Sourcebook
Norse Saga Net
Anglo-Saxon Charters
Siever's Heliand
Bible (Douay-Rheims)
Dum├ęzil, Norse Gods
Klaeber, Beowulf

Manuscripts of St. Gall

Old English at UVa
Viking Ship Museum


Warning! Jingoistic anti-Roman revisionism, but nevertheless informative:

VIDEO: The Ancient Celts
VIDEO: The Goths
VIDEO: The Barbarian Tribes