Beowulf on Stage

Aus Iaawiki

Sommersemester 2019

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Course Information
Nr. Kursbezeichnung Typ Zeit Raum DozentIn
154153 Beowulf on Stage 2 HS Mi 16:00 – 17:30 R. 3.206 Dolberg/Thomson
Course Description

In this course we will engage with the Old English epic Beowulf. Classes on Beowulf tend to either focus on literary/cultural issues and largely ignore its actual language by chiefly relying on translations, or adopt a linguistic/philological approach, centring on analysing and translating the Old English text, in turn leaving literary/cultural issues largely aside. This course is different in several respects: First and most importantly, its foremost purpose is to transform the mediaeval poem into a script for a play, to be performed in Old English. Thus the present class allows participants to acquire active proficiency in Old English in addition to profound insight into its historical, cultural and literary significance by rewriting the poem into dialogues and monologues fit for theatre performance. Secondly, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach, in equal measure engaging with the language of the narrative as well as its literary/cultural significance. To this end, this class is team-taught by a literary scholar and a linguist. Thirdly, this class is integral part of the project “Old Images, Modern Stages” (cf.,, which will put on stage three iconic European epics, each in its original language. In parallel to the Old English Beowulf dealt with in this class, two other courses will do the same with the Middle High German Nibelungenlied and the Old Spanish El Cantar de Mio Cid, offered by RUB’s German and Romance departments respectively. The project aims to achieve a better understanding of the languages represented by the three epics and their historical and cultural significance in a modern Europe. Therefore, another major aspect of the project and hence this class is the interdisciplinary exchange with the two other disciplines: participants are enabled to compare the similarities and differences of the epics based on their plots, themes, topics, forms, etc., and to reflect on the literary genre ‘epic’ in light of modern stage performances, culminating in producing such a performance. To this end, experts from RUB’s department for theatre studies will assist participants with the practical and theoretical aspects of the performance. This interdisciplinary exchange will take place in one or two joint sessions with the other disciplines.
In attending this class, participants have the opportunity to achieve the following:

  • Proficiency in reading, pronouncing, understanding, and writing Old English;
  • thereby developing a deep(er) understanding of the relationship between Old English, Modern English and modern German;
  • Knowledge about mediaeval Germanic society (e.g. kings, warriors, kinship, allegiance, boasts and oaths, feuds, gifts, etc.);
  • Knowledge about mediaeval Germanic culture (e.g. heroism, orality, skalds/scops/bards and their storytelling/performativity, paganism, christianisation, etc.);
  • Appreciation for the significance of the Beowulf epic as both source and exemplar for our understanding of mediaeval Germanic culture and society;
  • thereby developing deep(er) understanding of the significance this historical society and culture has in our day and age
  • Creative engagement with the historical material, adapting it for modern stage performance underlining and manifesting this current significance
  • Participating in this stage performance
Course Requirements

Requirement for credit is, next to regular and active participation, a portfolio comprising all or some of the above (depending on how many ECTS are needed). Classes are held alternatingly at TUD and RUB, beginning April 3rd at TUD, Emil-Figge-Str 50, R. 3.206. Participants need to be willing and able to commute to/from TUD/RUB on a biweekly basis (travel time is ca 30-40 mins).

2009 603, 703, 704 603, 802 603, 802 703
2016 603, 703, 704 603, 802, 803 603, 802, 803 703
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaften/Angewandte Literatur-/Kulturwissenschaften:
PO vor WS 16/17:
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  • Komp: 3bc
  • Kern: 6bc, 7bc
  • Komp: 4a
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PO ab WS 16/17:
  • Kern: 6b, 7ac
  • Komp: 3bc
  • Kern: 6bc, 7bc
  • Komp: 4a
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