En 105

Old English Literature

9 units (3-0-6)  |  first term
"Moððe word fræt." Want to learn how to read the riddle that begins with these words? This course will introduce students to Old English: the earliest form of the English language, spoken in England from roughly the years 450 to 1100. In studying the language, we will turn to its diverse and exciting body of literature, including one poem commemorating the brutal defeat by a Viking army and another based on the biblical story of Judith, who tricks the evil king Holofernes into sleeping with her-but not before slicing off his drunken head. We will also read a variety of shorter texts: laws, medical recipes, humorously obscene riddles. Successful completion of the course will give students a richer sense not only of the earliest period of English literature, but also of the English language as it is written and spoken today. No prior experience with Old or Middle English is necessary for this course. Not offered 2021-2022.

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