About This Chapter
Who's It For?
Anyone who needs help learning or mastering the background material of Beowulf will benefit from the lessons in this chapter. There is no faster or easier way to learn about the literary and historical context of this work. Among those who would benefit are:
- Students who want to learn a broad topic in a short amount of time
- Students who are looking for easy ways to identify the most important information on the topic
- Students who have fallen behind in memorizing events and people associated with the history and literary influences of Beowulf
- Students who prefer multiple ways of learning Old English literature (visual or auditory)
- Students who have missed class time and need to catch up
- Students who have limited time to study for an upcoming exam
How It Works:
- Watch each video in the chapter to review all key topics.
- Refer to the video transcripts to reinforce your learning.
- Test your understanding of each lesson with a short quiz.
- Complete your review with the Beowulf Historical & Literary Context chapter exam.
Why It Works:
- Study Efficiently: The lessons in this chapter cover only information you need to know.
- Retain What You Learn: Engaging animations and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
- Be Ready on Test Day: Take the Beowulf Historical & Literary Context chapter exam to make sure you're prepared.
- Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any Old English literature question. They're here to help!
- Study With Flexibility: Watch videos on any web-ready device.
Students Will Review:
This chapter summarizes the material students need to know about the context of Beowulf from historical and literary perspectives for a standard literature course. Topics covered include:
- An overview of medieval literature and history
- Definition and usage of alliterative verse
- The popularity of epic poetry throughout the ancient world
- History and characteristics of Anglo-Saxon poetry
- The origin and author of Beowulf
- A look into whether Beowulf was a real historical figure
- The historical time frame of this poem
- A description of the scop in Beowulf
- How Beowulf relates to modern heroic figures
1. Introduction to Medieval Literature: Old English, Middle English, and Historical Context
We'll go over some quick medieval history to situate some of the major literary works of the time period. We're going from Caedmon and Beowulf, writing in Old English, all the way up to Sir Thomas Malory's collections of the Arthur myths in late Middle English.
2. Alliterative Verse: Definition & Examples
In this lesson, you'll learn more about the definition of alliterative verse and read some examples of alliterative verse. Then you can test your newfound knowledge with a quiz.
3. Epic Poetry: Definition, Heroes & Stories
Learn about epic poetry in the ancient world. Explore two epic poems, ''Gilgamesh'' and ''The Iliad'' and discover the information these poems contain about the cultures that created them.
4. Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Characteristics & Examples
In this lesson, we will review the general history of Anglo-Saxon society and its era. Then we will look closer at the characteristics of the literature, specifically the poetry, of that era.
5. Origin of Beowulf
This lesson will examine the somewhat obscure and mysterious origins of one of England's oldest and most revered epic poems, ''Beowulf''. From slaying monsters to examining the role of violence in pre-Christian Germanic Europe, ''Beowulf'' has it all.
6. Author of Beowulf
'Beowulf' is an epic poem first written down in the Anglo-Saxon era, possibly reiterating an earlier, oral tradition tale from Geatish culture. Little is known about the author, but scholars have made inroads into determining possible details about the scop who wrote it.
7. Was Beowulf Real?
''Beowulf'' is an epic poem about a legendary Anglo-Saxon king. Like many figures of legend, such as King Arthur, Beowulf was probably based in part on a real king whose story was told and embellished for generations, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
8. Time Period of Beowulf: Historical Background
The 3,182-line epic poem 'Beowulf' is considered by many to be the first piece of English literature. Examining the history of this poem of monsters, battles, and heroic deeds can teach us a lot about the people who lived during its time.
9. Scop in Beowulf
In medieval literature, the scop traveled to mead halls to recite his poems to Anglo-Saxon warriors. The poems often extolled the triumphs of the warriors, helping them celebrate their victories.
10. Beowulf Compared to Modern Day Heroes
Beowulf is the first hero in English literature. You can still see echoes of him in modern heroes like Superman. However, current works like 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Star Wars' show why Beowulf is different from a modern hero.
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