English 203

Graduate Readings: Struggling With Consolation--Reading Boethius in Anglo-Saxon England

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2012 O'Brien O'Keeffe, Katherine
O'Brien O'Keeffe, Katherine
TTh 9:30-11 305 Wheeler

Book List

Boethius: The Theological Tractates; The Consolation of Phlosophy. With an English translation by H. F. Stewart, E. K. Rand, and S. J. Tester;

Recommended: Clark Hall, J. R. : A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary

Other Readings and Media

PDF of Sedgefield's edition available at:


Other materials will be available on b-Space and through the library's electronic resources.


This course has a double aim: to explore the reception of Boethius’s De consolatione Philosophiae in Anglo-Saxon England and to do so by engaging one of the remarkable achievements of Anglo-Saxon translation, the Old English version of Boethius’s great work. One of the interests of the course will be the active ways in which the Old English translation modifies and rewrites Boethius’s text, incorporating Anglo-Saxon ways of knowing into the sixth-century text. And it will also attend to how the text has been ‘made,’ from the two surviving medieval manuscripts, to Junius’s proto-edition, and the succession of printed editions since. In thinking about the commentary tradition, we will explore what glosses may tell us about the reception of the text. Our work with the manuscripts, glosses, and early printed texts will also attend to the visual dimensions of meaning. Students should  read the Consolation of Philosophy as a preliminary to the class. Pre-requisite: completion of Introduction to Old English OR Medieval Latin OR permission of the instructor.

Requirements:  daily engagement with the text, one or two class presentations, a short experimental paper (aimed at trying out the idea for the final paper), a final paper of 15-20 pages. Topics will be chosen in consultation with the professor.

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