Old English II
Course Convenor: Prof. Susan Irvine
The course covers the later period of Old English literature. Its focus is Old English writing in prose from the end of the 9th century to the beginning of the 11th century. Important developments in style, purpose and literary assurance can be traced through this period, and the course aims to enable students to assess and analyse particular texts in relation to these developments. Prose composition flourished particularly in the reign of Alfred at the end of the 9th century, and in the aftermath of the Benedictine Reform at the end of the 10th. The works studied exemplify the richness and variety of the writings produced in these contexts. From Alfred's reign, Alfred's Preface 'On the State of Learning in England' and extracts from Alfred's translation of Boethius are examined; from later in the period, sermons by Ælfric and Wulfstan, and Ælfric's Lives of St. Edmund and St. Æthelthryth are read. Some poems composed during the period, including Judith and The Battle of Maldon, are also studied to demonstrate the variety of styles and genres available and utilised. The course assumes some prior knowledge of Old English (such as the first-year Old English course).
consists of twice-weekly one-hour seminars. Assessment is by a three-hour
written examination containing translation, commentary and essay questions (NB:
it is not possible to be examined by Course Essay for this course). The course
is self-contained; it does not require students to have taken Old English I as
an option (though they may, of course, take both).