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Language, Learning and Translation

Revision notes

Texts for discussion:

-- Extracts from Anglo-Saxon prose
-- Solomon and Saturn
-- Article from BBC Online
-- Howe, Nicholas. "The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England." In Old English Literature: Critical Essays, edited by R. M. Liuzza, 1-22. (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2002.)

-- Discenza, Nicole Guenther. "The Persuasive Power of Alfredian Prose." In Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature, edited by David F. Johnson and Elaine M. Treharne, 122-35. (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.)

Further Old English texts:

The Old English Version of the Heptateuch ed. S.J. Crawford is an Old English translation of the first seven books of the Bible, at least part of which is assumed to be by Ælfric.
Asser's Life of King Alfred is translated in the Penguin Classics volume Alfred the Great.
The full text of Bede's Ecclesiastical History in Old English is ed. Thomas Miller. A translation of the original Latin text is available in Penguin Classics, ed. D. H. Farmer.

Secondary reading:

Clanchy, M. T. 1993. From memory to written record: England 1066-1307. 2nd. ed. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1993.)
Lerer, Seth. Literacy and power in Anglo-Saxon literature. (Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.)
McKitterick, Rosamond. The uses of literacy in early mediaeval Europe. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.)
O'Keeffe, Katherine O'Brien. Visible song: transitional literacy in Old English verse. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.)

Assignment Questions:

Using Bede's account of Caedmon's Hymn and any other resources, write an essay on one of the following topics:

1. 'Awendan' - to translate, to turn, to distort. Discuss this range of meanings of 'awendan' in relation EITHER to Old English literary works OR to modern translations of Old English works, OR TO BOTH.
2. 'Language, and in particular poetic language, brings human individuality together in a community for literature' (SETH LERER). Discuss.
3. What can we learn from Anglo-Saxon prose literature about attitudes towards learning and literacy in the period?