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Heroes and Saints: Old English Epic Tradition

Class at Faculty of Arts |



The course will examine a range of Old English religious poems with the aim to explore the ways in which the religious epic reacts to and incorporates the idioms of heroic poetry. We will especially concentrate on the presentation of the protagonist and his/her spiritual progress as well as on the order of the world which the texts construct. Close reading of selected passages should enable us to appreciate the variety of approaches which the religious texts assume in relation to the values transmitted in the secular poetry.

MATERIAL selections from:


Guthlac A, B



A selection of critical reading will be presented in handouts at the first session.

Comprehensive glossaries will be provided, but an elementary working knowledge of Old English (e.g. the basic paradigms) is necessary for the enjoyment of, as opposed to a struggle with, the texts.


Students are expected to give one oral presentation and submit a paper of 3,000 words for a credit. An essay of 6,000 words should be submitted as a graded paper. Active participation is of the essence.