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Dragons, cannibals, talking onions, miraculous healings, saints in disguise: these are just some of the marvels readers encounter in the oldest literature in the English language, written down in the centuries before the Norman Conquest. In this course we’ll master the basics of Old English grammar and language to help open up a weird and wonderful word-hoard of verse and prose. We’ll tackle riddles, magic charms, elegiac poems, religious texts, historical chronicles, and portions of the most famous Old English epic, Beowulf. As we read and translate these texts, we’ll consider them in their historical, cultural, and material contexts — from the damaged parchment manuscripts in which they are preserved to the iron sword blades found in contemporary graves. No previous experience with Old English necessary. Assignments will include quizzes and translations, an oral presentation, and a final paper.