As is now well known from films, graphic novels, and the like, Beowulf, our most important Old English poem, treats a super-hero’s fights against three monsters. Often overlooked, however, are its many allusions to historical events involving pre-English peoples still living in their continental Germanic homelands. In this semianr, participants will especially consider how these allusions contribute to the poem’s overall meaning. Man can sometimes defeat the monsters, the poem seems to tell us, but his is also a terrifyingly unstable world.
Seminar led by Christina von Nolcken, University of Chicago