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Unit 1Anglo-Saxon Literature



We need to know

Historical background about the Anglo-Saxon period

How to recognize caesura and kenning in poetry

How to recognize and understand the plot and themes of literature from this unit


Key Terms

epic poem, epic hero, caesura, kenning, appositive, lyric poem, history, etymology


The Literature

  • "The Seafarer"

    Beowulf: the Wrath of Grendel

    Beowulf: the Monster’s Lair

    "The Wanderer"

    A History of the English Church and People Bede

  • Journal Questions

      1. 1. Define each of the key terms listed above.
      2. 2. Describe the historical context of the Anglo-Saxon period.
      3. 3. Compare and contrast the poet’s references to Fate and God in "The Seafarer."
      4. 4. Find five appositives or appositive phrases in Beowulf and point out the nouns they identify.
      5. 5. Identify and describe a modern-day hero that you would consider to be an epic hero and explain why. (may be a movie, comic book, or cartoon character) What heroic qualities does the hero embody?
      6. 6. Compare and contrast Beowulf with the movie The 13th Warrior.
      7. 7. Some of the more philosophical passages in "The Wanderer" reflect an attitude called stoicism – enduring both pain and pleasure without fear or longing. Discuss whether the wanderer in the poem is genuinely stoic or is only making an effort to control his grief.
      8. 8. Give your opinion on the excerpt from Bede’s history. Does the history seem accurate? Is it clearly written? What do you find to be its most striking fact?
      9. 9. Trace the history of the following words: promontory, furlong, migrate, cockle

    Unit Projects

      1. 1. Memorization assignment – Introduction to Beowulf. (see handout) 25 points
      2. 2. Vocabulary quiz – 30 points
      3. 3. Point of view composition – Write a 2-4 page composition in which you tell the incidents in Beowulf from Grendel’s point of view. Consider Grendel’s thoughts and feelings during his final, fatal visit to Hrothgar’s hall. Make sure you are giving Grendel’s version of the events, not your own or Beowulf’s. 75 points
      4. 4. Unit test - 100 points

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