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Philology 6: Old English Literature and Culture


Admission requirements

Introductory level of Old English is required (successful completion of Philology 2).


This course elaborates on Philology 2. We shall read, study and translate a number of literary and non-literary texts in combination with background literature. You will gradually gain a deeper insight into a broad spectrum of aspects of the Anglo-Saxon culture which have not yet been dealt with in Philology 2, or only in passing. Topics that will be discussed include feud and reconciliation, hero and/or saint, fact or propaganda, the material culture (archaeology and paleography), orality and literacy.

Course objectives

Students will acquire a thorough knowledge of the highlights of Old English literature (prose and poetry) and of the relevant cultural history of Anglo-Saxon England. They will become familiar with the various genres and ways of interpreting. They will also be able to translate Old English at an advanced level. After successful completion of the course, students will be well equipped to attend Old English courses at M.A.-level.


The timetable will be available by June 1st at the website.

Mode of instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.

Assessment method

Written exam: translation 30%, literature and culture 70%


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (Cambridge: CUP, 1991).

  • Ian Campbell, ed., The Anglo-Saxons (Penguin Books, 1991).

  • Elaine Treharne, ed., Old and Middle English c. 890-c. 1400. An Anthology, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004, or 3rd edn. 2010). (in your possession).


Students should register through uSis. First-year students cannot register through uSis. They will be registered by the administration. Exchange studentens cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Studentcounsellor Bachelor: Ms. S.H.J. Bollen, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103B.
Coordinator of Studies Master: Ms. K. van der Zeeuw-Filemon, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.