Approaches to Teaching Beowulf

  • Editors: Jess B. Bessinger, Jr., Robert F. Yeager
  • Pages: xvii & 214 pp.
  • Published: 1984
  • ISBN: 9780873524827 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Beowulf Cover
Paperback ($19.75)
“ . . . an 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

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.