ENGL32146 Queens, Vikings, poets and dragons: Old English and early medieval Britain

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1 View timetable
  • Credits: 20
  • Class Size: 10
  • Module Manager: Dr Venetia Bridges
  • Email: V.R.Bridges@leeds.ac.uk
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module
  • This module replaces ENGL32995 - After Empire

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

Early medieval Britain (c. 500-1100) was a vibrant, multicultural and multilingual society. English, Irish, Welsh, Norse, Latin and French were all widely spoken, prestigious languages. This module will give you the chance to study, in translation, amazing literature written in all these languages - and to get to grips with Old English texts in the original.
Old English is at once both familiar - even homely - and strange and challenging. Different enough from our own English to be a foreign language, it is nonetheless one of the easiest languages for an English-speaker to learn. No previous experience of language-learning is expected or required. This course will give you a clear sense of progress as, through weekly language classes, Old English texts resolve themselves into some of the first, and finest, literature in English. In Beowulf, monsters vie for attention with sociologically acute analyses of feuding culture. The True Cross speaks; a woman sits and weeps; an archbishop, faced with Viking invaders, calls on his nation of sinners to repent; exiles ply the icy sea. Learning Old English will also help you to understand how language works more generally, giving you perspectives valuable for other literary and linguistic studies, and a framework which will make it easier to learn other languages in future.
While learning Old English, we'll also read the multicultural literature of early medieval Britain in translation. We'll analyse the Old Irish Táin, which pits the teenage hero Cú Chulainn against the massed forces of Connacht; Marie de France's tales of love, treachery, and werewolves; and legends of the smith Weland, including the Old Norse Vǫ lundarkviða. You'll be able to write essays tailored to your interests, whether delving into the detail of Old English texts or ranging across this range of translated literature.

Objectives

  • - To explore the literatures of Britain in the early medieval period (including works composed in Old English, Old Welsh, Old Irish, Old Norse, and Latin)
  • - To develop theoretically rigorous frameworks for understanding the use of literature as evidence for past cultures in post-colonial, multi-ethnic, and medieval contexts.
  • - To enable students to engage with the module's Old English literature in the original language.

Syllabus

Early medieval Britain (c. 500-1100) was a vibrant, multicultural and multilingual society. English, Irish, Welsh, Norse, Latin and French were all widely spoken, prestigious languages. This module will give you the chance to study, in translation, amazing literature written in all these languages - and to get to grips with Old English texts in the original.
Old English is at once both familiar - even homely - and strange and challenging. Different enough from our own English to be a foreign language, it is nonetheless one of the easiest languages for an English-speaker to learn. No previous experience of language-learning is expected or required. This course will give you a clear sense of progress as, through weekly language classes, Old English texts resolve themselves into some of the first, and finest, literature in English. In Beowulf, monsters vie for attention with sociologically acute analyses of feuding culture. The True Cross speaks; a woman sits and weeps; an archbishop, faced with Viking invaders, calls on his nation of sinners to repent; exiles ply the icy sea. Learning Old English will also help you to understand how language works more generally, giving you perspectives valuable for other literary and linguistic studies, and a framework which will make it easier to learn other languages in future.
While learning Old English, we'll also read the multicultural literature of early medieval Britain in translation. We'll analyse the Old Irish Táin, which pits the teenage hero Cú Chulainn against the massed forces of Connacht; Marie de France's tales of love, treachery, and werewolves; and legends of the smith Weland, including the Old Norse Vǫ lundarkviða. You'll be able to write essays tailored to your interests, whether delving into the detail of Old English texts or ranging across this range of translated literature.

Learning Outcomes

  • - Familiarity with the most prominent texts of early medieval Britain, such as the Old English Beowulf, the Old Irish Táin, the Middle Welsh Canu Heledd, the Old Norse Vǫlundarkviða, and the poetry of Aldhelm.
  • - Key theoretical concepts in postcolonial and medieval studies.
  • - The fundamentals of Old English grammar and vocabulary.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching

Coursework

Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1,700 word essay (including quotations and footnotes). 33.3
Essay 2,750 word essay (including quotations and footnotes). 66.7
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 100.0

Private Study

Teaching will be through weekly text seminars (10 × 1 hour) and language seminars (10 × 1 hour).
Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation, essay writing.

Progress Monitoring

  • - Contribution to seminars.
  • - 1,700 word assessed essay.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
seminars 20 1 20
Private Study Hours 180
Total Contact Hours 20
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

Reading List

Reading List
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