Research in Specific Author(s) or Work(s) (Pre-1800)

L760 — Fall 2021

Joey McMullen
Days and Times
1:10p - 4:10p R (4 CR)
Course Description

(This course fulfills one course of the two-course research skill for English Ph.D. students.)

*AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED: After the designated pre-enrollment period, English department graduate students and outside minors please email All other students please contact the instructor first for permission.

Topic: Beowulf and its Contexts

Building on the basic grammar and language skills learned in first semester Old English, this course will study some of the most fascinating sections of Beowulf—from monster-slaying and heroic feats to pagan burials and betrayals—in order to learn what makes it an exceptional poem. We will also combine translation with literary criticism to consider different aspects of Beowulf each week: the artistry of poetic language and meter, the use of Germanic legend, reception history, and even popular culture representations, for example. With the commercial success of Seamus Heaney’s translation (1999), the poem received a prominence among the general public commensurate with its status as the crowning achievement of Old English poetry. By the end of the semester, we will have experienced—both first-hand in the Old English lines and second-hand through various contexts—what makes this poem so significant in English literary history.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

See complete course details