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Beowulf and the Old English Heroic Age

The opening of the Old English poem Widsith (Exeter Cathedral Library)

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 24th January 2009

Rediscover the almost lost continent of heroic legends from the early history of the English through an exploration of Beowulf and related manuscripts.

This course will explore some of the surviving manuscripts of Old English and related Germanic and Norse heroic literature. Our starting-point will be Beowulf. Through this and related texts, especially the catalogue poem Widsith, we can begin to glimpse the richness of the great word-hoard of heroic verse which existed in early England. We shall attempt to chart the historical and geographical scope of this lost world through a consideration of comparative texts and thus rediscover something of the legends associated with Beowulf, Offa the Old, and Wayland the Wonder-Smith.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Beowulf and Old English Heroic Poetry  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Widsith and the Old English Heroic Age  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Legend of Offa the Old  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Forgotten Verse of Old England  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA in 1991 and published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993. He has lectured widely around the country and has contributed to many television and radio programmes. His second book, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, was published in 2003. He is currently a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Alexander, M., Beowulf: A Glossed Text (Penguin Classics 1995, 2000)
Alexander, M., Old English Literature (Macmillan 1983)
Backhouse, J., and others (ed.), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum, 1984)
Bjork, R.E., & J.D.Niles (eds), A Beowulf Handbook (Nebraska University 1997)
Bruce-Mitford, R., Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Gollancz 1974)
Fulk, R. (ed.), Interpretations of Beowulf: A Critical Anthology (Indiana University 1991)
Garmonsway, G., and J.Simpson, Beowulf and Its Analogues (Dent 1968, 1980)
Heaney, S. (tr.), Beowulf (Faber & Faber 1999)
Hyams, E.R., & S.T.Samples, Heroic Legends of the North: An Introduction to the Nibelung and Dietrich Cycles (Garland 1996)
Lee, S. D., & E. Solopova, The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson, A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986-2001)
Mitchell, B., and F.Robinson (eds), Beowulf (Blackwell 1998)
Newton, S., The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Brewer 1993, 1994)
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird 2003)
North, R., & J.Allard, Beowulf and Other Stories: A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic, and Anglo-Norman Literatures (Pearson Longman 2007)
Orchard, A., A Critical Companion to Beowulf (Brewer 2003)
Orchard, A., Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the Beowulf Manuscript (Brewer 1995)
Shippey, T. A., The Road to Middle-earth (Allen & Unwin 1982; rev. edn Harper Collins 2003)
Swanton, M, Beowulf (Manchester 1978)
Turville-Petre, G., Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (London 1964)
Turville-Petre, G., The Heroic Age of Scandinavia (London 1951, 1976)
Webster, L., and J.Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (British Museum 1991)
Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)

Some Useful Websites
Beowulf in Cyberspace: www.heorot.dk
Professor Simon Keynes encyclopaedic website for Old Engish Studies: www.trin.cam.ac.uk/sdk13/sdk13home.html
Richard Rawlinson Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies & Ms. Research: www.wmich.edu/medieval/rawl
The Old English Labyrinth Library: www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/oe.html

Bookings

Please phone or email to check the availability of places and then send the application form and a cheque for £38, payable to Wuffing Education to:

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)
Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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