Possible readings (probable readings?) are grouped by topic.
Magic, 3 days’ readings total
1- The Magical World of the Anglo-Saxons 238 pages
OR Popular Religion of Late Saxon England–Both are fairly easy to read. One is more in line with the worldview the students understand and could relate to more easily, but is also more expensive.
2- charms (and Numbers chapter 5)
3- Ecclesiastical History (all in the iBook): Intro, Caedmon’s Hymn, Variations, Edwin’s Conversion, Bede’s Death Song (388-407)
Dream of the Rood (324-31)
Note: Beowulf includes some magic. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight includes magic and is the last reading we will cover in the course. Both of these readings I intend to give 2 days for.
2- Nowell Codex sections 4-7 Judith: OE and Apocrypha (introduction, pre-text, etc)
3- Chapter 3 of Woman as Hero in Old English Literature “Judith, Juliana, Elene”
Exeter Book section 9 Juliana
4- Vercelli Book section 2 Elene or St. Helen
5- chapter 5 of Woman as Hero in Old English Literature “Eve in Genesis B”
Junius 11 section 1 Genesis B
6- chapter 6 of Woman as Hero in Old English Literature “Wulf & Eadwacer, Wife’s Lament”
Exeter Book sections 6-8 Wulf & Eadwacer, Wife’s Lament, Message Brought
Monsters, 4 days of readings
1- Book of Kells. Yes, I know it is the Bible, but it includes some amazing animal representations.
2- The Old English Physiologus
Note: Whether we read the Arthurian tales or not, I intend to read Marie de France’s “The Lay of the Were-Wolf.” Technically that would give this 5 days’ of readings, but right now I am still leaning towards Arthurian readings.
Arthurian Readings, 6 days’ readings, plus Sir Gawain
1- short poems on Arthur from Celtic and Welsh traditions
2- Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Life of Merlin, which followed more traditional views according to the reading I have done. This is 26 pages of reading plus 8 pages of notes.
3- Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Arthurian Passages from History of the Kings of Britain, 96 pages.
4- excerpts from Layamon’s Brut, 540 lines of the original 30,000+
5- two lays of Marie de France
6- Book of Taliesin, Welsh, 1300s
Two texts, Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, have magic and monsters and, to some extent, women warriors.
To the reading of Beowulf I plan to add Tolkien’s “Beowulf: The Monster and the Critics.” This is 110 pages of reading, but I do intend to have it take at least two days.
I am seriously considering adding The Fight at Finnesburg, The Battle at Brunnanburg, the Battle of Maldon, and the poems of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.
I am also considering adding the beginning through 900 of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, but assigning each individual student something to read or scan for. So students would be searching for specific things in the Chronicles and wouldn’t be responsible for “reading” the whole text.
That would be 25 days’ readings out of 30 days of class time. Take a midterm and that’s 26. Add a day of no homework reading for the reading digital presentation and the research project (whatever that ends up being) and that is 28 days. I have a list of things to read during class on the days when there is no homework reading, which includes
The Exeter Riddles
Second Shepherd’s Play.
However, the last two probably won’t be within the time frame of the era we are reading in.
That leaves two additional days for catch up… If we are snowed in and miss days (like we did in the fall) or if I have to be out of town for a conference (which I may).
But I also like the idea of reading the mystics. If I put the mystics in the magic section, though, that would mean reading across time periods (which I think would confuse the students).
Mystics, 5 or 6 days’ reading
1+2- Julian of Norwich, which is 141 pages
3+4- Margery Kempe (or only do excerpts and do 1 day)
5+6- The Cloud of Unknowing, 110 pages
So, while I have a core of selected “for sure” readings, there are a significant number of “maybe” texts. Maybe the Chronicles and battles. Maybe the Arthurian texts. Maybe the mystics.
While I would like (for several reasons) to do the mystics, I am leaning towards the Arthurian readings instead. For one thing, I will be able to talk about the different versions of the stories (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, etc). That way I can re-present the idea that the British Isles are not monolithic; they are full of multiple cultures across multiple time periods who speak multiple languages.
For another, as my son says, no one would object to reading Arthur stories.