Introduction to Old English (traditional)

ENGL 4200/7200
Section 01
Johanna Kramer
Course Description

Cross-listed with Linguistics and Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Love to learn languages, especially dead ones? Want to find out how all of English literature got started? Then Introduction to Old English is the course for you! Along the way, you will discover where dog-sized, gold-digging ants live, and you get to read the amazing, rich, beautiful, strange, moving, and mind-blowing literature that inspired Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.

This course is an intensive introduction to Old English, the earliest form of English recorded in writing and the language spoken in early medieval 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 rich and diverse literature and culture of early medieval 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 Wanderer 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 Old English language. Another purpose of this course is to become acquainted with early medieval English literary culture, which combines oral and written, pre-Christian and Christian-Latin traditions. Aside from the pleasures of learning a medieval language, studying Old English will make you better understand modern English and get really good at grammar, can make you a stronger writer, and will allow you to recognize the influences of Old English literature on subsequent literary periods and writers.