Introduction to Old English

English 4200/7200
Section 01
Johanna Kramer
Strickland 210

Tolkien, Wordsworth, Milton, Pound, Auden, Longfellow, Heaney, Borges, Rowling. What do all of these writers have in common? A fascination with the literature of Anglo-Saxon England and a deep interest in the Old English language. Learn Old English to see what inspired these famous authors!

This course is an intensive introduction to Old English, the earliest form of English recorded in writing and the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England from about the 5th to the later 11th century. While the focus of this class is the acquisition and practice of the Old English language, the course also introduces students to the fascinating literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England (including its art, archaeology, manuscript culture, and religious practices). As we gain knowledge of the language, we first read prose texts and then move to more complex verse texts, among them such famous and brilliant poems like The Seafarer and The Dream of the Rood. This course is intended to give students a solid grounding in Old English grammar, enabling them to read a wide range of Old English texts in the original with the help of a dictionary and to proceed to more advanced studies in early English language and literature. Another purpose of this course is to become acquainted with the rich culture of Anglo-Saxon England, which combines oral and written, pre-Christian and Christian-Latin traditions. Aside from the pleasures of learning a medieval langague, studying Old English will make you better understand modern English, can make you a stronger writer, and will allow you to recognize the influences of Old English literature on subsequent literary periods and writers.

Assignments include (but are not limited to) daily homework exercises, translations, quizzes, a brief oral presentation, and exams. No prior knowledge of Old English or other languages is required to take this course, although previous language experience will prove helpful. Same as Linguistics 4200/7200 and Medieval and Renaissance Studies MDVL_REN 4411/8411.