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Approaches to Teaching Beowulf

Editor(s): Jess B. Bessinger, Jr., Robert F. Yeager

Pages: xvii & 214 pp.
Published: 1984
ISBN: 9780873524827

" extraordinarily useful and obliquely interesting book.... Essays on the cultural context, sources and analogues, orality, prosody, and feminist criticism, all by specialists with an evident commitment to good teaching, can only be helpful."
Modern Language Review

The casebound edition of this title is out of print.

During recent decades, the study of Beowulf has flourished in liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and high schools. Useful for new instructors as well as medieval scholars, this collection of twenty-eight essays suggests ways to teach the poem to undergraduate, graduate, and mixed classes, in Old English or in translation.

Like other books in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, Approaches to Teaching Beowulf is divided into two parts. The first part, "Materials," reviews the many editions and translations of Beowulf and evaluates reference works, aids to teaching, critical studies, and facsimiles. The second, "Approaches," begins with a survey of how and to whom Beowulf is taught, followed by four sections of essays on teaching the poem at specific levels of instruction. The last two sections of essays offer ideas for presenting the background of the poem (history, religion, oral tradition) and for using special approaches, such as discussing the role of women in the poem and teaching Beowulf as performance.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Beowulf

Introduction: An International Survey on the Teaching of Beowulf

Jess B. Bessinger, Jr., and Robert F. Yeager


Translations of Beowulf
Douglas D. Short

Aids to Teaching

The Instructor's Library
Reference Works
Background Studies
Critical and Stylistic Studies
Manuscript Studies and Facsimiles


Beowulf Courses Today

The State of the Art: A Survey
Joseph F. Tuso

Teaching Beowulf in Old English to Undergraduates
Howell Chickering
Elizabeth Greene
George Clark
Paul B. Taylor
Robert F. Yeager

Teaching Beowulf in Translation to Undergraduates
Elaine Tuttle Hansen
Bernice W. Kliman
Edward J. Rielly
Diana M. DeLuca

Teaching Beowulf in Old English to Mixed Undergraduate and Graduate Classes
Michael D. Cherniss
Mary Elizabeth Meek
Alain Renoir
Victor L. Strite

Teaching Beowulf in Old English to Graduate Students
Stanley J. Kahrl
John C. McGalliard
Marijane Osborn
Harry Jay Solo

Teaching the Backgrounds

History, Religion, Culture
Fred C. Robinson

Parallels, Useful Analogues, and Elusive Sources
Constance B. Hieatt

Beowulf: Oral Tradition behind the Manuscript
John Miles Foley

Special Approaches

The New Rhetoric: Writing as an Instrument for Teaching Beowulf
Myra Berman

Visual Materials for Teaching Beowulf
Donald K. Fry

Women in Beowulf
Alexandra Hennessey Olsen

Teaching Beowulf as Performance
John D. Niles

Forgeries and Facsimiles: Paleography without Tears
Jess B. Bessinger, Jr.

The Words
Stephen A. Barney

Old English Prosody
Thomas Cable

Works Cited



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