English 205B

Old English: Late Old English

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2016 Thornbury, Emily V.
TTh 2-3:30 115 Barrows

Book List

Recommended: Clayton, Mary, and Hugh Magennis: The Old English Lives of St. Margaret; Swan, Mary, and Elaine Treharne, ed.: Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century; Treharne, E.: Living Through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, c. 1020-1220

Other Readings and Media

Material on bCourses (also available for photocopying)


In this course, we will explore the curious phenomenon of Old English after the Norman Conquest. Although English’s status as a language of power was overturned in 1066, the vernacular lived on in many guises—most remarkably as recognizably Old English works copied by speakers of early Middle English. We will focus on texts in several important post-Conquest manuscripts, including saints’ lives from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 303, and works of religious philosophy (including the Old English Soliloquies) from London, British Library, Cotton Vitellius A.xv(2). We will examine networks of transmission through the lens of a homily by Ælfric, and we will also consider the changes to the English language and the poetic metre through texts including Durham, The Grave, and the metrical prayer in Cotton Julius A.ii. At the end of the course, students will present their research in a conference-length paper.

Most material will be available via the bCourses site; however, we will also be reading Elaine Treharne’s recent Living Through Conquest; Clayton and Magennis' Old English Lives of St. Margaret; and the whole of the essay collection Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century.

Prerequisites: a strong reading knowledge of Old English (A- in English 104 or the equivalent).

This course satisfies the Group 2 (Medieval through 16th Century) requirement.

Back to Semester List