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Old English Bibliography

The First Fifty Titles to Know About

The following list is 99% based on a helpful handout provided to me when I was a graduate student at the University of Oregon by Professor James Earl. Any errors in this copy are the result of my own scribal corruptions while copying, rather than a product of the original work. The bibliography contains a list of elementary resources for students of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) that no student should be without. If you are serious about studying Old English, you should spend a few hours acquainting yourself with these tools. Two warnings: (1) this bibliography is extremely elementary, and it was last updated in 1995; (2) the list reflects sources available at the University of Oregon library, and you may need to use interlibrary loan them to get them. Remember that a bibliography is meaningless unless you actually read the books.

I. First of all, three bibliographical tools:

1. Greenfield, Stanley and Fred Robinson. A Bibliography of Publications on Old English Literature to the End of 1972 (Toronto, 1980). Including a bibliography of bibliographies. It's mostly the old stuff, with one or two pages listed per topic.

2. Anglo-Saxon England, an annual published by Cambridge University Press that includes complete bibliographies since 1972 as well as many of the articles you will want to read.

3. The Old English Newsletter, published semi-annually by the State University of New York, with complete annual bibliographies, reviews of scholarship, and abstracts. You can subscribe for $6.00.

II. Essential reference works regarding the Old English language:

4. Bosworth, Joseph and T. Northcote Toller, An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Oxford 1882-98), with Supplement by T. Northcote Toller (Oxford, 1908-21), and Addenda and Corrigenda by Alistair Campbell (Oxford, 1972). It will soon be superseded by the Toronto Dictionary project, but until then, this is the ultimate dictionary. For real certainty, every word must be looked up in all three volumes! If you don't do so, you may commit a scholarly gaffe.

5. Clark Hall, John, and Herbert D. Meritt, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th ed. (Cambridge 1966). It's a usable quick reference, but use with caution if you are publishing!

6. Campbell, Alistair, Old English Grammar (Oxford 1959). For reference use. Not for the timorous.

7. Mitchell, Bruce, Old English Syntax. (Oxford, 1985). Delightfully readable, if you have a couple of years. Excellent reference tool with good indexes.

8. Mitchell, Bruce and Fred Robinson, A Guide to Old English (Blackwell, 1986). A standard textbook with simplified grammar.

9. Bessinger, Jess and Philip Smith, A Concordance to the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (Cornell, 1978). A concordance is far better than a dictionary when doing any detailed work in Old English. A concordance lists every sentence or passage where the word appears in use, so you can see how it functions.

10. Barney, Stephen, Word-Hoard: An Introduction to Old English Vocabulary (Yale, 1985). A useful vocabulary-builder.

III. Essential reference works regarding Anglo-Saxon history:

11. Whitelock, Dorothy, English Historical Documents, vol 1, c. 500-1042 (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968). Reliable translations of everything useful by way of historical backgrounds.

12. Collingwood, R. G. , and J. N. L. Myres, Roman Britain and the English Settlements (Oxford, 1937).

13. Stenton, Frank, Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1971). The standard.

14. Whitelock, Dorothy, The Beginnings of English Society (Penguin, 1968). A highly readable introduction.

15. Campbell, James, Erec John and Patrick Wormald, The Anglo-Saxons (Phaidon, 1982). A brilliant and highly readable revisionist history with copious illustrations. Extremely useful, two thumbs up.

IV. Texts, including the standard editions of the poems we will be studying, and some other useful items; scholarship must be based on the standard editions to be taken seriously!

16. Krapp, George Philip, and E. V. K. Dobbie, The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, 6 vols. (Columbia, 1931-53). The invaluable standard, even where superseded. Three volumes especially, The Exeter Book, The Junius Manuscript, and The Minor Poems are absolute treasures.

17. Gollancz, Israel. The Exeter Book, vol. I (EETS, 1895), and Mackie W. S., The Exeter Book, vol. ii (EETS, 1934). Early and unreliable texts, but with facing line-by-line translations of the entire Exeter Book. A complete read-through of this book in translation is the best introduction I know to OE poetry.

18. Pope, John C. Seven Old English Poems (Bobbs-Merrill, 1966). An authoritative textbook in standardized OE with excellent introductions, notes, and glossary.

19. Klinck, Anne L. The Old English Elegies: A Critical Edition and Genre Study (McGill-Queens Univ., 1992). This place is where students should begin with the elegies; it is complete and has facsimiles of the manuscript.

20. Aelfric's Colloquy, ed. G. N. Garmonsway (Methuen, 1947).

21. The Prose Solomon and Saturn and Adrian and Ritheus, ed. James Cross and Thomas D. Hill (Toronto, 1982).

22. Deor, ed. Kemp Malone (Methuen, 1966).

23. The Battle of Maldon, ed. Eric V. Gordon (Methuen, 1957). Also see The Battle of Maldon, ed. Don Scragg (Manchester, 1981).

24. The Dream of the Rood, ed. Bruce Dickens and Alan S. C. Ross, (Methuen, 1966).

25. The Wanderer, ed. Roy F. Leslie (Manchester, 1966).

26. The Wanderer, ed. Thomas P. Dunning and Alan J. Bliss (Methuen, 1969).

27. The Seafarer, ed. Ida L. Gordon (Methuen, 1960).

28. The Saxon Genesis, ed. A. N. Doane (Wisconsin, 1991).

V. Some handbooks and studies in Old English literary history:

29. Greenfield, Stanley, and Daniel Calder, A New Critical History of Old English Literature (NYU, 1986). With an excellent survy of Anglo-Latin backgrounds by Michael Lapidge; every Old English student's indispensible introduction.

30. Wrenn, C. L. A Study of Old English Literature (London, 1967).

31. Sissam, Kenneth, Studies in the History of Old English Literature (Oxford, 1953). Advanced studies by a master scholar; excellent "Dialect Origins of the Earlier Old English Verse."

32. Lord, Alfred, The Singer of Tales (Harvard, 1960). The book that launched oral-formulaic criticism.

33. Opland, Jeff. Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry (Yale 1980). The most comprehensive (though not uncontroversial) treatment of oral-formulaic traits in Anglo-Saxon.

34. Calder, D. G., et al. Sources and Analogues of Old English Poetry, vol. I, the Latin Sources (Brewer, 1976); vol II, Germanic and Celtic Sources (Brewer, 1983)

VI. As for literary criticism, you will need to do most of your research in journals rather than books, but here are some collections of important articles to shorten your search.

35. Stanley, E. G., Continuations and Beginnings: Studies in Old English Literature (Nelson, 1966). Seven comprehensive essays by heavies in the field. Greenfield on elegy, Clemoes on Aelfric.

36. Bessinger, Jess, and Stanley Kahrl, Essential Articles for the Study of Old English Poetry (Archon, 1968).

37. Stevens, Martin, and Jerome Mandel, Old English Literature (Nebraska, 1968).

38. Creed, Robert P., Old English Poetry: Fifteen Essays (Brown, 1967).

39. Bessinger, Jess and Robert P. Creed, Franciplegius (NYU, 1965).

40. Nicholson, Lewis E., and Dolores Frese, Anglo-Saxon Poetry (Notre Dame, 1975).

41. Green, Martin, The Old English Elegies (Fairleigh Dickinson, 1983).

42. Brown, Phyllis, Georgia Crampton, and Fred Robinson, Modes of Interpretation in Old English Literature (Toronto, 1986).

43. Damico, Helen, and Alexandra Hennessey Olsen, New Readings on Women in Old English Literature (Indiana UP, 1991).

44. Godden, Malcolm, and Michael Lapidge, The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (Cambridge UP, 1991). Impeccably conservative.

45. Frantzen, Allen, ed. Speaking Two Languages: Traditional Disciplines and Contemporary Theory in Medieval Studies (SUNY P, 1991). It was the cutting edge in 1991. Now it feels a bit 90's.

46. Hall, Joan, Nick Doane and Dick Ringler, eds. Old English and New (Garland, 1992).

VII. Some books of interest in literary criticism:

47. Frantzen, Allen, The Desire for Origins: New Language, Old English, and Teaching the Tradition (Rutgers, 1990). The book the Old Boys love to hate. Great for discussion of Caedmon.

48. Lerer, Seth, Literacy and Power in Anglo-Saxon England (Nebraska, 1991).

49. O'Brian O'Keeffe, Katherine, Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse (Cambridge, 1990).

50. Hermann, John P. Allegories of War: Language and Violence in Old English Poetry (Michigan, 1989).

 

 

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