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Philology 2: Introduction to Old English Language and Culture



This course focuses on the first centuries of the English language and culture, the period of Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (c.450–c.1100), of which a surprisingly rich literature has come down to us. You will be given a thorough introduction to the Old English language (phonology, morphology, syntax; Old English as ancestor of Modern English), and you will develop skills in translating short texts in both prose and poetry. In addition, we shall study a variegated selection from Anglo-Saxon literature, partly in Old English and partly in translation, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ælfric, Riddles, and Beowulf. Placing these texts in their cultural historical context also allows us to deal with such topics as the Vikings, the Sutton Hoo ship burial, manuscripts and daily life.

Teaching method

Two hour seminar per week.

Course objectives

An insight into and understanding of Old English grammar; skills in translation of Old English text; insight in Anglo-Saxon literature and culture.

Required reading

  • Peter S. Baker. Introduction to Old English. 2nd edn. Malden MA [etc.]: Blackwell, 2007.

  • Elaine Treharne. Old and Middle English c.890–c.1400: An Anthology. 3rd edn. Malden MA [etc.]: Blackwell, 2009.

Test method

Written exam with unseen translation and grammar 45%; written test on literature and culture 40%; furthermore, participation in tutorial and assignments 15%.

Time table

The timetable will be available from June 1st on the Internet.


English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail:


Students can register through U-twist before 15 July. After 15 July students can only register through the Departmental Office.


There will be a Blackboard site available.