British Literature Beowulf Introduction Lecture

today you're going to be listening to a lecture about the introduction of Beowulf for your British literature English 12 class I'm Miss Morgenstern and if you have any questions about this lecture you can leave a comment for me on our Google classroom before we get started some things you should know about this lecture you should be taking notes and you can expect a quiz when we get back to school on September 27th that's that Tuesday we get back some background of Beowulf before we get started if you like heroes if you like epic journeys monsters there's a lot of actually gore in this if you like any of those things or find those interesting this will be a really great read for you Beowulf is definitely not a dry text in any way shape or form all right an overview of our PowerPoint lecture and what I'm going to be talking about with you today we're going to be talking about why we're reading Beowulf in the context of this British literature course we're also going to talk about bale wolves provenance that's like the history and origins of Beowulf because this particular text has a really interesting and convoluted history we're going to be talking about the setting and background of Beowulf and some poetic devices and terms that you need to know before we get started reading alright so while I was studying Beowulf it's the oldest poem in the English language and that being said most literature is going to stem from it in some way shape or form Beowulf encompasses common themes that we'll see all throughout our British literature course so it's a really good foundation and then bailiff is just a great story it's well written and it's interesting it's a page-turner like I said before it's not a boring text in the slightest in some ways it doesn't really matter what you read or how you read it and so since bailiffs the first story that was written or so epic poem that was written we might as well start there with British literature alright bale wools provenances so we actually don't know quite a bit about Beowulf's origins we don't know who wrote it and we don't exactly know when it was written but there are some speculations that we'll talk about and then we also don't know how much was based on historical truth what we do know is that Beowulf is the oldest surviving English poem it was written in Old English and during the setting of anglo-saxon time the English accent people and it's based on the language that we speak today we will not be reading the Old English version you will have a side-by-side translation you'll see why we have that translation a little bit later on but it would be extremely difficult to read without that translation some characters in the poem are actually did exist so that's something that we do know about Beowulf so some of these characters really did live during this time period and we will see some kind of interesting history and ties to myth and folklore and historical fact and then we also know that the only copy of the manuscript was written sometime around the 11th century AD the actual poem however dates from the eighth century and the story setting is actually a place even earlier around 500 AD another thing that's really interesting about Beowulf is that there's a lot of Christian references in the poem so we'll be really looking into the Christian influence of Beowulf what's interesting about this is that the times at the time in the setting of the English accent period when it was when Beowulf is set is actually all based on pagan belief so there's this weird blend of history where these Christian influences are taking over a text that should be primarily pagan this is probably most likely due to monks that translated it when the manuscript was finally written monks obviously were the scholars and so they were the ones who could read and write and so they probably had some creative interpretation so to speak with Beowulf and the manuscript so why wasn't it written down the first place this was a oral story and was passed down through the centuries before it was actually written down and it wasn't until after Norman the Norman invasion in 1066 that writing stories down became common in this part of the world so really there wasn't people who were writing stories down it was all just through oral tradition what happened to the manuscripts since the 11th century and ended up with this guy right here his name is Robert cotton and Cotton's library actually burned down in 1731 and a lot of manuscripts were entirely destroyed luckily available was only partially damaged and the manuscript is now preserved in the British Museum all right so let's talk about setting with Beowulf so although Bale also was written in English it is set in what is now Sweden where a tribe called the gates lived the story may take place and as early like I said earlier as early as 400 or 500 AD so we're going to be seeing three major tribes and Beowulf and the gates are one of the major tribes that we will see okay here's just a map to kind of get yourself oriented this is present-day Europe we have Sweden and Denmark and a kind of more of a zoomed up map of when we have Beowulf setting the gates are here we have the Swedes up north the Jutes are to the west and so this those are kind of our three major groups of the Jutes the Swedes and the gates here's another map that just kind of shows placement of where these people were the angles were up north the Jutes were down to the south and then the Saxons were in the middle so there one of the issues that comes up with this historically is that we have a lot of different tribes a lot of different people all in close quarters and so as we know with history um that doesn't necessarily always work out very well and so there's a lot of war and invasions and conflict alright so the version we're reading was likely composed in 680 and 835 though it might be set a little earlier and like I said the timeline were not quite sure so we're only speculating some things that we actually know did occur and 521 a.d the death of hee oh gosh okay here we go hee hee hee alack ok the death of he lack and he's mentioned in the poem so this was a character that actually did live he alack is one of the many names of characters that we are going to have to hurdle over while we read Beowulf in 680 AD the appearance of a litter of illiterate sorry alliterative verse show started to show up and a lot of you probably have heard about alliteration right similar sounds the seashell sea sure that thing alliterative verse is a little different but it does have that same concept of similar sounds we'll talk about that a little bit later in more detail and then 1/8 835 ad the Danish started raiding other areas after this a few poets would consider them heroes okay so Beowulf is oh goodness he's not a Danish but like we said earlier with those three other groups they're going to be fighting and reading and so this poem depicts Beowulf as a hero type but really any time after this period they weren't considered heroes because they were pillaging and invading other people's homes all right hang low Saxon society so this is something that we're going to be talking about all throughout the reading of Beowulf so definitely pay attention to this Beowulf provides a strong history of English accent life values in society at the time the bill was written so kind of what we did with your summer reading we're putting Beowulf in historical context okay and we're making we are going to explore Beowulf as a product of its time traits valued by the English accents had excuse me sorry some of the traits that were valued in English accent I'm where courage bravery strength loyalty and obedience to one's Lord generosity willingness to engage in battle and the quest for fame those are really important traits and values that we'll be looking at all throughout the text and you may or may not see on a future quiz so I would take the time right now to write them down so this is our aristocratic poem so we're only going to be worrying about the upper-class the Kings the royalty this epic poem is not going to deal with the common folk at all we don't really see that until really Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales in literature alright so paganism alright polytheistic beliefs meaning they worship multiple gods okay and an example of this is seven whose names were based on the names of the days of the week so Sunday and Saturday those were based off of gods that the anglo-saxon people worshipped I write poetry and Beowulf so I said we'd mentioned alliterative verse a little bit later so here's a quick and simple definition of alliterative verse illiterate verse has repetition of initial sounds of words and they occur in every line generally they're four feet beats per line there's a say Shura or I pause between beats two and four and there is no rhyme okay so here's where I was talking about the original text of Beowulf before you you have the opening lines to Beowulf in Old English the reason why I'm showing this to you it's because of this right here these three lines are examples of a literate alliterative verse okay so how you would pronounce that first line oft shield shaping shape shape Pete sorry shape inna parity M so that's off shield shaping shape inna parity M so notice here that we have this C C sorry SC sound which actually is pronounced with the SH sound in our present-day English and you have all of this repetition right here of sounds so what we are noticing is that we have these three similar sounds in a row and that we have a break here between the two different similar sounds okay and it continues on throughout this old English version now the reason I show you the old English version is because most of the alliterative verse is lost in our translation here's what that first line actually means in translation in English there was shield sheafson foraging of many tribes okay so this ahead of this big tribe and how powerful this person is all right another point of literature sorry poetic terms that you should know is kennings kennings are compound metaphors they're usually two words and then most we're probably used over and over okay so here's some examples of kennings from Beowulf that you're going to see so if we were reading the old version it would be Bono's but in our translated version we'll see bone house bone house is translated to body okay so it's a compound like I said before it is a compound metaphor all right you'll also see gold friend of men which is a generous Prince ring giver which is a lord or the flower flashing light which is a sword we'll be making a list of kennings as we read to kind of make sure that we all understand what they mean all right light totes all right diet oats are a negative expression usually an understatement so an example of this and I'm sure you guys use these all the time is they do not seem like the happiest couple around or your room is not a complete disaster right so it's an understatement that actually gives more of a negative impression okay some terms you should know a scope is a bard or a storyteller and the scope was responsible for praising deeds and past heroes or recording history for provide and for providing entertainment so this is where scope would be writing about Beowulf because he was such an epic hero that they wanted to tell his story calm ITA's literally means escort or rad this term identifies the concept of warriors and Lords mutually pledging their loyalty to one another okay so bond for life so to speak with warriors Thane is a warrior mead hall is a large dining hall where the Warriors basically the Warriors quarters where they ate and slept and had ceremonies word this is directly translated as fate this is going to be a major theme we'll right now a motif but a theme that we'll be exploring throughout the text and it's an idea that is frequently in our poem where it references Christian values of God's will okay so this is where that Christian value comes in an epic Beowulf is an epic poem when you get back to class we'll be talking about what are characteristics of an epic poem and usually epic poems have an epic hero with a big universal conflict that needs to be somehow resolved through a big journey and big lots of big obstacles elegy is a poem that is satyr mournful and the majority of us should know homily but it's like a sermon that's written that gives advice some themes to look out for while we start reading Beowulf good versus evil religion and religious influences the importance of wealth so especially because this is an aristocratic poem where we're only talking about the high up class and the Kings and the princes that's going to be really important the importance of the sea and sailing especially for these people and the setting that Beowulf has the sanctity of home not only as a sanctuary but also as a place for commader II and a place where there's this bond that cannot be broken which also leads into loyalty and allegiance fate great word as it will be reference and then heroism and heroic deeds so what you're going to do is when you get back to class so on Monday the 26th we're going to be going over your senior project and then Tuesday we will pick up Beowulf we'll have a little quick PowerPoint about epic poems and we will jump right into the text don't forget you're responsible for knowing all this information and you can expect a quiz on Tuesday the 27th have a great day

One thought on “British Literature Beowulf Introduction Lecture

  1. I wish I would have taken history. It's so much more interesting to me now as I get older. I have a question if I may. Why do historians consider Beowulf as a reflection of Anglo-Saxon values? There is not a single Angle or Saxon in the poem? I understand that we don't really have anything else to go on. It just feels more like a story the Viking raiders would have brought with them about their own past.

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