Beowulf: Myth, Legend, and History

Although acknowledged as a foundational work of English literature, the complicated and allusive style of the longest epic poem in Old English often intimidates teachers and students alike. This seminar will help educators to read and teach the work in a new way by illuminating the fascinating mixture of mythic, legendary, and historical material that come together in the poem. We will turn to the literary heritage of Scandinavia and continental Europe to help us understand material that the Beowulf poet assumed the audience would already know, and we will examine the historical events and figures that appear in the work. Educators will gain new insights into making this powerful work exciting and engaging for their students.