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Beowulf: An Online Exercise

I. The purpose of this exercise is to explore the difference between an unedited medieval text and an edited, modern version of that text. For this class exercise, we will be examining the first nineteen lines of Beowulf.

We will procede by following these steps, below:

II. First, we will look at a modern English translation of Beowulf. Here, we will discuss the imperfect process of translation and I will argue that no two translations are ever the same.

III. Then we will look at a digitalized image of the first page of Beowulf in the original manuscript. Here, we will discuss the difference in manuscript layout, lettering, and punctuation. We will try to transcribe (copy what we see on the page in a more readable manner) a couple of lines.

IV. If you have trouble reading the burnt and faded original manuscript, you can check our work against a transliteration done by the late Dr. Zupitza.

V. When you have finished this assignment, if there is still time remaining, you might want to wander around the web and check out these two external websites as a supplement to your work:

The Electronic Beowulf Project: A website devoted to Kevin Kiernan's scholarly project to create a hypertext version of Beowulf.

The Oxford English Dictionary: The mother of all dictionaries, this enormous and erudite dictionary was begun in the nineteenth century as a stupendous philological project. The editors wanted to create the most comprehensive dictionary of English ever, based upon historical principles that traced each word's usage over the course of centuries. If you want to trace a modern word back to its Anglo-Saxon roots, this is the place to go. NOTE: Students can only access the Oxford English Dictionary from an on-campus computer at a campus with an up-to-date subscription to it. Currently, Carson-Newman University does not have a subscription. Trying to log onto this site from off-campus will not work unless you have a paid subscription to the OED independent of the university.


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