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CE1037: SONGS, MYTHS AND HERO-TALES OF THE OLD NORTH: AN INTRODUCTION TO EARLY CELTIC AND ANGLO-SAXON LITERATURE (2017-2018)

Last modified: 21 Aug 2017 21:15


Course Overview

This course introduces the oldest vernacular literature of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, beginning in the sixth century AD. We explore heroic narratives featuring, for example, the Scandinavian monster-fighter Beowulf (immortalized in England’s first epic poem), the Irish warrior Cú Chulainn (hero of the Táin) and the tragic Welsh princess Branwen, caught up in a fatal power-struggle between Wales and Ireland. We examine praise-poetry, meditative poetry, and look at mythological tales about the old gods and voyages to Otherworld isles in the western ocean.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Professor Ralph O'Connor

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • CE1537 Songs, Myths and Hero-Tales of the Old North (Studied)
  • CE2037 Songs, Myths and Hero-Tales of the Old North (Studied)
  • CE2537 Songs, Myths and Hero-Tales of the Old North (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?

No

Course Description

Course Aims

To introduce students to the literature of early medieval Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Main Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, active students will be able to:

 

• Understand and appreciate a range of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon literary texts
• Understand how to read these texts in their historical and literary contexts
• Understand the different genres to which these texts belong
• Discuss the possible purposes for which these texts were composed
• Engage in cultural comparison between different areas of the British Isles
• Write a coherent essay exploring a chosen topic within the course
• Participate in group discussion

Course Content

 

This course introduces the oldest vernacular literature of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, beginning in the sixth century AD: the finest artistic achievements of a world of violence, passion, contemplation and cold political calculation. We explore heroic narratives featuring, for example, the Scandinavian monster-fighter Beowulf (immortalized in England’s first epic poem), the Irish warrior Cú Chulainn (hero of the Táin) and the tragic Welsh princess Branwen, caught up in a fatal power-struggle between Wales and Ireland. We examine praise-poetry and heroic elegy from the time when Scotland's Central Belt was riven by border raids between Welsh and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. We explore meditative poetry about the natural world, and about the inner lives of those cut off from the rest of society: outlaws, exiles, hermits. And we look at mythological tales about the old gods and voyages to Otherworld isles in the western ocean. This course will enable students to appreciate the remarkable and emotionally compelling artistry of these works, and to explore what they meant for mediaeval audiences in their cultural contexts. All these texts will be studied in English translation, and no prior knowledge is expected.

 

Further Information & Notes

Teaching: Two 1-hr lectures and one 1-hr tutorial per week.

This course will be available in 2017/18, and is available to all Level 1 students in any degree programme, and all visiting students.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • Celtic Joint
  • MA Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Studies

Contact Teaching Time

33 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


Assessment

1st Attempt

Continuous assessment (100%)

One 1500-word essay: 30%

One 2000-word essay: 60%

Tutorial participation: 10%

Resit

One 3000-word essay (100%)

 

Formative Assessment

None.

Feedback

In person, in scheduled meetings with course tutors. By request, in meetings with the course coordinator.

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