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Germanic Studies Portal

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Advanced Old English: Ælfric's Letter to Sigeweard

For this month, we turn again to Aelfric of Eynsham, the most prolific writer in Old English. In this letter, he addresses a nobleman and tries to teach him what Aelfric considers to be the important things of the Christian faith. It is a fascinating text to read and has a little something for everyone interested in the language, literature, and culture of Early Medieval England.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Ælfric's Lives of the Saints

Saints’ Lives were a major and important genre of literature and were composed in prose and poetry. In this module we will look at three prose lives written in the 990s by Aelfric of Eynsham, from whose quill more Old English survives than even the prolific Anonymous! Those three are English figures: Kings who became saints Oswin and Edmund and the capital city saint Swithun. Then we will begin Guthlac A, one of the poetic treatments of a St Guthlac of East Anglia.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Apollonius of Tyre

This is one of the most popular tales of the Ancient and Medieval worlds! Originally a Hellenistic Greek tale, translated into Latin, and then many Latin and vernacular versions thereafter. The earliest vernacular is the Old English translation by the ubiquitous Anonymous. The tale has incest, murder, unjust punishments, hidden identities, and resolutions. Apollonius of Tyre is a corker of a tale and fun in any language!
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Cynewulf's Christ II

Cynewulf is one of the few poets whose name we know from the Old English period. He composed 4 narrative poems casting saints' lives into Old English poetry. "Christ II" is so named because it is one of three poems dealing with key moments in Christ's life: the "Advent" and Incarnation, the Ascension, and the Harrowing of Hell. This middle poem is the one we know as certainly as we can that it was composed by Cynewulf and has a number of very interesting features.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Cynewulf's Juliana

In Early Medieval English literature, there are only two poets writing in Old English whose names we know. Caedmon (technically he didn't know how to write, others wrote for him copying his oral compositions---almost all of which is now lost to us), and Cynewulf. Little is known of Cynewulf other than he had monastic training and was likely a monk. It is debated as to whether he was an eighth, ninth, or tenth century writer. Previously we had a module that worked with his poem known as "Christ II" by modern scholars and with "Fates of the Apostles". This module will work with his translation and adaptation of an early Christian saint's life, The Life of St Juliana, a virgin saint who sacrificed her life for the faith so as not to marry a pagan Roman. Great stuff occurs in this tale!
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Heroic Elegies

J. R. R. Tolkien suggested in his seminal Monsters and the Critics that Beowulf is a heroic elegy. In this module, we will translate some of the Old English Heroic Elegies such as "Deor", "Wife’s Lament", "Husband’s Message", "The Ruin", and if time others. Not only translating, the question is how these “elegies” relate to Beowulf I, or Tolkien’s own work. The module emphasizes translation and working in Old English, but also how that applies to other literature (i. e. this stuff isn’t in a vacuum!)
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Beowulf I

Spend the time reading and translating in a relaxed manner with friends! This beautiful, moving, narrative poem is a joy to work with and I hope you will join me for a month of study.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Beowulf II

Let's continue reading and translating Beowulf in a relaxed manner with friends! This beautiful, moving, narrative poem is a joy to work with and I hope you will join me for another month of study.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Genesis A 1

The long poem that scholars have named Genesis A is a retelling and adaptation of the first 22 chapters of Genesis into a Germanic heroic poem! Among the many points of interest is that this poem contains the FIRST time in intellectual history that the NARRATIVE of the Fall of the Angels is told and made a part of the Creation Story. The poem is almost as long as Beowulf, so this module will start at the beginning and get as far as we get, with plans to return to it in future modules.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Genesis A 2

This is a continuation from where we left off in Genesis A 2... The long poem that scholars have named Genesis A is a retelling and adaptation of the first 22 chapters of Genesis into a Germanic heroic poem! Among the many points of interest is that this poem contains the FIRST time in intellectual history that the NARRATIVE of the Fall of the Angels is told and made a part of the Creation Story. The poem is almost as long as Beowulf, so this module began at the beginning of the poem and now we shall continue where we left off!
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English Readings: Alice in Wonderland

Dr. Peter Baker, then of the University of Virginia, translated Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland into Old English. This module will work with and translate back into Modern English this fun and delightful text, Æðelgyðe Ellendæda on Wundorlande: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Old English.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English Readings in Poetry: Judith and Exodus

The Early English adapted Biblical material into heroic poetry. In this module two of those poems will be translated and discussed, each only a few hundred lines.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English Readings in Prose: the Old English Boethius

Alfred the Great had Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy translated into Old English. This module will translate and comment on this translation and how it adapts the late Roman text to the early medieval context.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Riddles

This module will focus on reading a number of Riddles in Old English. The Riddles cover a wide range of subjects from the bawdy to sublime, aimed at both lower class and learned classes. In short, they are fun!
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Selections in Prose

For this module a selection of prose texts not usually encountered in readings classes will be examined. First, the Life of St. Swithun. When this is finished we will explore short selections from Alfred's Laws, a charter or two, and a will from a tenth century noble woman to round out the module.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English Series: Readings in Poetry First in the Series

Welcome to the Readings in Poetry page for the Advanced Old English Series in which students explore, in alternating months, a work of prose and then a work of poetry to introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for study. Each month Dr. Swain surveys the group to see what they want to tackle next from month to month.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English Series: Readings in Poetry and Prose Series

In this series of Advanced Old English Readings we explore, in alternating months, a work of prose and then a work of poetry to introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for study. Each month Dr. Swain surveys the group to see what they want to tackle next from month to month.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English Series: Readings in Prose Continuing Series

Welcome to the Readings in Prose page for the Advanced Old English Series in which students explore, in alternating months, a work of prose and then a work of poetry to introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old English texts available for study. Each month Dr. Swain surveys the group to see what they want to tackle next from month to month.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: The Blickling Homilies

April is often mostly a Lenten month (though in 2023 Easter is April 9). The collection of homilies known as the Blickling Homilies has a number of Lenten homilies, especially at the beginning of the collection. It is then fitting to have the two together! The homilies were collected together from diverse sources in the second half of the tenth century. The collection is contemporary then with the Genesis A manuscript and the Beowulf manuscript and Aelfric of Eynsham. But these prose texts appear Mercian in dialect, and would have made Tolkien happy. They are called "Blickling" because they were discovered in the library of Blickling Hall in Norfolk.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old English: Tolkien's Old English Poetry

Most people know that J. R. R. Tolkien was a scholar as well as a writer of speculative fiction. His scholarship was extensive and one of his primary areas was Old English language and literature. But fewer fans know that he also composed poetry in Old English, especially in the early stages of his career. This module will attempt to gather and translate Tolkien's Old English poetry from the various sources in HoME and other sources where they are printed.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Advanced Old Norse Readings Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

This series will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old Norse texts available for study. Each month, Dr. Anderson surveys the group using the Old Norse survey form to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

Note: Please refer to the Required Texts section on a month's iteration page to see which texts the group has decided upon for a given month.

Precepted by Carl Anderson

Advanced Old Norse: Volsunga Saga First in the Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs”) is a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. In this module, you will begin to translate Vǫlsunga saga and discuss both the language and how the saga’s version of the legends relate to other versions known from the medieval world.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Advanced Old Norse: Vǫlsunga Saga Continuing Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

The Advanced Old Norse reading modules return to Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs), a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. This module picks up where previous iterations of this module left the narrative. We will translate the text of the saga and discuss both its language and how its version of the legends relates to other versions known from the medieval world. Anyone with a reading knowledge of Old Norse can join this module!
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Advanced Old Norse: Vǫlsunga Saga Continuing Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

The Advanced Old Norse reading modules return to Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs), a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. This module picks up where previous iterations of this module left the narrative. We will translate the text of the saga and discuss both its language and how its version of the legends relates to other versions known from the medieval world. Anyone with a reading knowledge of Old Norse can join this module!
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Advanced Old Norse: Vǫlsunga Saga Continuing Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

The Advanced Old Norse reading modules return to Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs), a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. This module picks up where previous iterations of this module left the narrative. We will translate the text of the saga and discuss both its language and how its version of the legends relates to other versions known from the medieval world. Anyone with a reading knowledge of Old Norse can join this module!
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Advanced Old Norse: Vǫlsunga Saga Continuing Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

The Advanced Old Norse reading modules return to Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs), a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. This module picks up where previous iterations of this module left the narrative: with the hero Sigurd preparing to confront the dragon Fáfnir. We will translate the text of the saga and discuss both its language and how its version of the legends relates to other versions known from the medieval world. Anyone with a reading knowledge of Old Norse can join this module!
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Advanced Old Norse: Volsunga Saga Series Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs”) is a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. In this module, we will continue to translate the Vǫlsunga saga and discuss both the language and how the saga’s version of the legends relate to other versions known from the medieval world.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Beginning Swedish

In an interactive language course, we will explore the grammar, culture, and vocabulary of the largest Scandinavian language spoken today. From Vikings to Volvos to IKEA, Sweden is internationally recognized as a leader of cultural thought and political neutrality. The Swedish language is from the branch of North Germanic languages, meaning a lot of built in cognates exist for speakers of other Germanic languages (including English).

Kom och tala svenska med mig!
Precepted by Paul Peterson

Big Bold Beowulf: A Study of the Poem

Always wanted to study Beowulf? Here's your opportunity. In our 8 hours together, we will delve into the worlds of the poem, examine the major critical elements, and seek to understand the poem better.
Precepted by Larry Swain

Conversational German 1 First in the Series

This 8-session introduction to German is intended to give the students a basic acquaintanceship with the German language and enough information for further study. This first module covers the alphabet, basic verb conjugation, important verbs like Haben and Sein, pronouns, grammatical gender, nominative vs. accusative cases, forming questions, and giving dates and times. Some specific vocabulary content is given in the session breakdown, but the individual entries are not meant to be either restrictive or exhaustive.

Session Breakdown:

1. The alphabet and sounds; the present tense of regular verbs; colors and numbers

2. Haben und Sein; nominative pronouns; noun gender; Was studieren Sie (what do you study?) and Wo wohnen Sie (where do you live?);

3. Fragewörter (question words) and forming questions; yes/no questions; “Interview” game

4. Coordinating conjunctions; describing your field of study; the verb mögen (to like)

5. Die Wochentage (days of the week); Die Uhrzeiten (time); Der Wochenplan (weekly schedule)

6. Planning a meeting with a friend (combination of Der Wochenplan and the “Questions” from Session 3); negation (Nicht and Kein)

7. The accusative case; description of rooms (Ich habe/Es gibt); accusative pronouns

8. Accusative prepositions; general review

Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive and can change depending on student wishes.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Conversational German 2 Continuing Series

This course continues along the track established by the first Conversational German Series module. This month, the topics are a bit more “fun,” focusing a great deal on “free time” activities and the students’ subjects of interests. Grammar is a bit more limited, but the biggest grammatical subject – modal verbs – are complicated enough to merit intense study. A final grammatical case, the dative, is introduced in the final two sessions. Because this module builds on the previous one, there is slightly more repetition in the sessions listed below.

Session Breakdown:

1. Introduction and review; nominative and accusative case; conjugation of regular conjugations

2. Der Alltag (the normal day); Irregular and Stem-changing verbs in the present; the German breakfast;

3. More practice with “irregular” verbs; Einkaufen gehen (going shopping); repetition of modal verbs; gern; Obst und Gemüse

4. Freizeit; modal verbs; review of Wochenplan vocabulary (date and time); repetition of coordinating conjunctions

5. Kleider (clothing); Musik hören (listening to music);

6. Sport treiben (exercise); evaluating hobbies (adjectives like entspannend “relaxing” or interessant “interesting”); Restaurant vocabulary

7. General review of cases; indirect objects and the dative case for nouns.

8. The dative case for pronouns; dative prepositions.

Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive and can change depending on student wishes.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Conversational German 3 Continuing Series

This module continues along the track established by Conversational German 1 and 2.

The cohort of the current iteration of Conversational German has asked to focus on speaking practice, so specific topics of instruction will be determined on an ad hoc basis. Any topics listed in the Conversational German 1 and 2 modules that have not yet been covered will be discussed, but the instructor will also introduce new subject matter. Possible subjects, time permitting, include:

Session Breakdown:

1. Imperatives and Requests

2. Separable Prefixes

3. The Conversational Past tense (The Present Perfect)

4. Irregular and Strong Verbs

5. Meals and Evening Activities

6. Travel Vocabulary

7. Vacation

8. Holidays and Festivals

Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive and can change depending on student wishes.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Conversational German 4 Continuing Series

This module continues along the track established by Conversational German modules 1-3.

The current iteration of Conversational German 4 continues to focus on speaking practice, which means that (as with Conversational German 3) the instructor determines specific topics on an ad hoc basis. If we have not yet covered topics listed in previous modules, we will cover them in this session while the instructor concomitantly introduces new subject matter. Possible subjects include:

Session Breakdown:

1. The Comparative and Superlative

2. Careers and Dream Jobs

3. Possessive Adjectives

4. Family Vocabulary

5. Months and Seasons

6. A Review: The Conversational Past

7. Separable Prefixes

8. Gesundheit

Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive and can change depending on student wishes.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Conversational German Series Series

This is the landing page for Dr. Isaac Schendel's Conversational German Series. For more information check out the module links below.

Also: Please wishlist this page if you are interested in taking Dr. Schendel's Conversation German Series when we offer it next.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Crash Course on Norse Myths

The literature containing Norse mythology remains one of the most fascinating bodies of medieval storytelling anywhere. Participants will make sense of Norse myths by examining the structures of the tales and investigating the background in which they were written down in manuscripts. Explore Norse mythology with Old Norse expert Dr. Paul Peterson!
Precepted by Paul Peterson

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún

Love, power, betrayal, death; the occasional dragon and cursed ring. All these are to be found in the legends of the Vǫlsungs and Niflungs, amongst the most popular and abiding legends of the medieval Germanic-speaking and Norse worlds. J.R.R. Tolkien reworked these into two poems in Modern English patterned after the alliterative style of Old Norse poems. In this module, we read Tolkien’s poems and their accompanying commentary to see how Tolkien wrought his own retelling of these ancient tales, and we’ll trace the connections across from the original medieval legends through Tolkien’s retelling to his original works of fantasy set in Middle-earth.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Middle High German 1: An Epic Introduction First in the Series

Middle High German (MHG) is the umbrella term for the German dialects used in the Holy Roman Empire from about 1050 to 1350. Its written form was the language of the court, and most MHG poetry embraces chivalric intellectual interests – adventure, romances, and courtly love! In our epic introduction to the language, we begin with a poem on subject matter that Old English and Old Norse students will immediately recognize: Das Nibelungenlied, the story of Siegfried (Sigurd) the dragon slayer, who we all know from the Völsunga Saga, the Poetic Edda, and (as his father Sigmund) Beowulf.

This module requires absolutely no modern German, but you may find that the course awakens that bit of “school German” you remember from high school. We will read our text – the 14th “Adventure” of The Nibelungenlied – slowly, as a small reading group. The benefit of the Nibelungenlied’s style is that enjambment is rare and each line can be treated as a single sentence.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Middle High German 2: An Epic Continuation Continuing Series

This module is a continuation of Middle High German 1 with the plan to continue with the 14th âventiure of the Nibelungenlied until we complete it. After that, we will switch to some Arthuriana - Iwein, by Hartmann von Aue, the German “translation” of Chrétien de Troyes’[s] Yvain, the Knight of the Lion. Also, if the students want to read something else, your preceptor is all ears!
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Middle High German 3: The Return of Brünhilde Continuing Series

This module, a continuation of the Middle High German series, picks up where the previous module left off (ie. Middle High German 2: An Epic Continuation). Although each MHG cohort learns and reads at different speeds, this module will probably continue with the 14th Âventiure of the Nibelungenlied and then switch to Hartmann von Aue’s Iwein, the German adaptation of Chrétien de Troyes’[s] Yvain, the Knight of the Lion.

As always, students are welcome to make suggestions if they would prefer a different text or even a different genre – farces, courtly epics, sermons or even legal texts are just a few examples of what we could read.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Middle High German Beginning Series Series

This is the landing page for Dr. Isaac Schendel's Middle High German Series which consists of two modules: Middle High German 1: An Epic Introduction and Middle High German 2: An Epic Continuation. For more information check out the module links below.

Also: Please wishlist this page if you are interested in taking Dr. Schendel's Middle High German series when we offer it next.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Old English 1 First in the Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English 2 Continuing Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English 3 Continuing Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English 4 Continuing Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English 5 Continuing Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English 6 Continuing Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English 7 Continuing Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This is the last module in a 7-part series which introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. Read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will be able to communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old English Series Series

Ready to begin learning Old English? This series of modules introduces students to the vocabulary and structure of the earliest recorded form of the English language. One year of modules prepares the student to read texts from over a thousand years ago! Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old English will communicate with our Director and Professor Swain to make the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel and Larry Swain

Old Norse 1 First in the Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse 2 Continuing Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse 3 Continuing Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse 4 Continuing Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse 5 Continuing Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse 6 Continuing Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse Sagas in Translation: Sagas of Heroic Legend

(Note: This module explores these texts in English, so no experience in Old Norse is necessary.)

Somewhere between the historical and the fantastic are the traditions of heroic legend, telling of extraordinary men and women whose triumphs and tragedies are writ larger than those of everyday life. In medieval Scandinavia, sagas of heroic legend such as The Saga of the Volsungs, The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, and The Saga of Hervor and King Heidrek retold already ancient stories in the new prose styles of the Middle Ages. Bravery and knavery; loyalty and treachery; magic and the mundane, horror and hope; these tales’ themes have enthralled audiences for more than a thousand years and played an outsized role in the birth of modern fantasy literature.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Old Norse Series Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
Precepted by Carl Anderson

Readings in Middle High German: Das Eckenlied

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German Modules, looks at a representative of the Medieval German aventiurehafter Dietrichepik, or legendary stories of the mythical King Dietrich von Bern (Theoderic the Great?). This song, equal parts romance and epic, tells the stories of the wannabe knight Ecke, the foolhardy giant who seeks out Dietrich von Bern and perishes in the duel, and of Dietrich von Bern’s subsequent quest to return Ecke’s disembodied head to his (Ecke’s) home of Seburg.

This module, like the other Readings in Middle High German, will both look at the poem as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will read selections of the text in Middle High German and translate them into English. Once translated, we will then discuss the segments both in isolation and in connection with the poem as a whole. Although no English translation of the Eckenlied exists, a summary of the complete poem will be supplied.

Questions discussed in the module will include questions of genre and the relationship of the poem to oral poetry, characterization of ambiguous heroes like Ecke and his brothers, perceptions of the so-called “Heroic Age” during Medieval Europe, intertextual relationships between Dietrichepen and other heroic poems, and gender in the past-within-the-past.

The language of the Eckenlied is roughly equivalent to the language of the Nibelungenlied, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Middle High German: Diu Klage

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous two Middle High German modules, focuses on the “concluding poem” of the Nibelungen Mythos, Diu Klage (The Lamentation), a 4360-line epic in rhyming couplets devoted to the aftermath of the slaughter in Etzel’s Hall. We will devote ourselves to both a close, philological reading of selected lines (about 20 lines per hour) and a general discussion of the entire work in English translation (German material can be consulted, of course, but the language of instruction is in English).

This session is intended both for veterans of the Middle High German modules and for beginners. If any beginners enroll, the discussion of MHG verse will focus a bit more on foundational grammatical concepts, but there will still be enough to interest and challenge advanced MHG readers.

Discussions of the text will look at it from a variety of perspectives, including: The “Heroic Age” in a High Medieval perspective, investigations of emotion in Middle High German verse, and intertextuality (both within German literature and across Germanic tradition). Students are, of course, welcome to bring their own expertise and interest – feel free to take up contact with the instructor ahead of time with your input!
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Middle High German: Herzog Ernst

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German Modules, looks at another representative of the Medieval German so-called Spielmannsdichtung (pseudo-minstrel tales). It tells the story of the Duke Ernest, who after unsuccessfully waging an assassination attempt and civil war against his misled step-father (and Holy Roman Emperor) flees to the Far East as a crusader, encountering mythical creatures and far-off places reminiscent to anyone who has read the Old English Wonders of the East.

We will follow the methods used in other Middle High German modules and look at the Herzog Ernst poem both as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will read selections of the text in the original language and translate them into English. Since it’s not entirely feasible to assume that everyone has access to a modern English translation, we will primarily discuss the translated sections, although a summary of the poem in general will be given.

Questions discussed in the module will include questions of genre (as always) and the connection between the frame story and the second narrative, monsters and the bridal-quest, the medieval political philosophy and the HRE (Holy Roman Empire), crusade poetry, and more.

The language of Herzog Ernst is roughly equivalent to the language of the Nibelungenlied, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Middle High German: König Rother

This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German modules, focuses on a poem that combines fairy tales, crusader epics, heroic poetry, and farces into a single masterpiece representative of the so-called Spielmannsdichtung (pseudo-minstrel tales) genre: König Rother. In this epic, the eponymous hero King Rother is in desperate need of a wife in order to secure political stability for his empire. Calling together his warriors and some violent, yet very endearing giants, he sets off for the Byzantine Empire, ready to kidnap (or free?) the princess from her overprotective (and maybe a bit incestuous) father Constantine.

The poem is a fun adventure and, for all the silliness inherent to the plot, a good window into Western Europe’s perceptions of the Byzantine Empire, its own political systems, and the idea of the miles Christianus.

In this module, we will follow the pattern of other MHG reading modules and look at König Rother both as literature and as an opportunity for language practice. We will read selections of the text in the original language and translate them into English. Questions discussed in the module will include (but are not limited to) questions of genre, the bridal-quest, and the interplay between heroic and crusader poetry.

The language König Rother is a bit more advanced than that of most MHG poetry, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Middle High German: Orendel

This module, which builds on the skills taught in previous Middle High German Modules, looks at a representative of the Medieval German so-called Spielmannsdichtung genre of short epics: Orendel. The titular hero of the epic, distantly related to the Old Norse Aurvandill, is a King with a fairy-tale mission to woo the beautiful Bride. He undergoes a number of adventures, including the discovery of Christ’s Tunic, in a paradigmatic example of a medieval Bridal Quest.

This module will both look at the poem as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will devote ourselves to a close, philological reading of the most important passages in the text.

This module is intended both for veterans of Middle High German and for beginners. If any beginners enroll, the discussion of MHG verse will focus a bit more on foundational grammatical concepts, but there will still be enough to interest and challenge advanced MHG readers.

Discussions of the text will also look at it from a variety of perspectives, including: What is the Spielmannsdichtung genre? How do the Christian Faith and Bridal Quest narratives, which spring from two different cultural traditions, mesh? Does Orendel actually resemble in any way Aurvandill, or should questions of “Germanic origin” be put to bed? And are there any intertextual connections between this poem and other monuments of Medieval Literature?
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Middle High German: Parzival

This module, yet another entry in Signum’s SPACE Middle High German curriculum developed by Dr. Schendel, is dedicated to the most complex and possibly best romance of the High Middle Ages: Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, a retelling of the Grail story. With this text, which reaches nearly 25,000 lines, Wolfram von Eschenbach completes the legend originally brought to life by Chrétien de Troyes. Parzival succeeds in the Grail Quest, heals the Fisher King, and fathers the famous Swan Knight, Lohengrin. Simultaneously, Parzival’s cousin Gawan (=Gawain) succeeds in a number of quests in defense of the honor of secular knighthood. Join us for a journey through the vibrant storytelling of the Middle Ages and meet a number of fascinating characters, like Parzival’s father Gachmuret, the noble Muslim knight Feirefiz, the African Queen Belakane, and Parzival’s wife, Condwiramurs. Well-known figures like King Arthur, Kay, and the infamous Red Knight also make an appearance.

This module is dedicated to the unique language of Wolfram von Eschenbach, but we will study it by reading excerpts of Parzival. We will begin with a short overview of the life of Gachmuret, Parzival’s father. We will then continue at the pace at which the group feels most comfortable, with occasional excursions into different elements of Medieval Culture when appropriate.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Middle High German Series

This series will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of texts available for study in Middle High German. Each month, Dr. Isaac Schendel surveys the group to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

Some of the texts we could explore in a given month include:
Diu Klage
Das Eckenlied
Herzog Ernst
König Rother
Orendel
Parzival

Note: Please refer to the Required Texts section on a month's iteration page to see which texts the group has decided upon for a given month.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Readings in Old English: The Battle of Maldon & Group Reading

The Battle of Maldon is the title given to a short (325 lines) alliterative poem commemorating a battle between the Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavian invaders on the english River Blackwater in 991. It describes the tragic fate of the ealdorman Byhrtnoð and his levy of Anglo-Saxon warriors after they agree to let the Vikings cross the river and fight with them on equal footing. The result is, predictably, a disaster, but the poem’s ambiguous language and positive depictions of Byhrtnoð and his retinue leave room for debate about the nature of the poem. Is it a criticism of foolhardiness and overconfidence? Is it a commemorative poem, a eulogy, or perhaps even a piece of wartime propaganda meant to rally the English to resist the Norse invaders? In this module, we will both read the poem in depth and discuss current scholarship on this poem.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

The Old Saxon for Old English Readers

Old Saxon, the continental cousin to Old English, was the language spoken in Northern Germany from the ninth to the twelfth century. It is closely related to and mutually intelligible with Anglo-Saxon, so Old English students will easily be able to read and understand it. The language boasts a number of smaller texts, but the Hêliand, an epic poem of nearly 6,000 lines, remains its most prestigious literary monument. It tells the story of Jesus Christ (the “Hêliand,” meaning “Savior”) reimagined as a Saxon lord with a retinue of twelve thanes, and it is comparable to the Old English Beowulf. In this module, we will read and discuss selections of this poem. Some familiarity with Old English is required.
Precepted by Isaac Schendel

Tolkien, the Anglo-Saxon Minstrel

Explore Tolkien’s Anglo-Saxon poetic inspiration. We will enjoy an introduction to a few Anglo-Saxon poems and then compare Tolkien’s adaptations to their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. Discussions of poetic style and technique will be with us along the way! Texts discussed include Beowulf, The Fall of Arthur, and other poems.
Precepted by Jennifer Rogers
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].