Spring 2021 - ENGL 201 E100

Medieval Literature (3)

Class Number: 4151

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 27, 2021
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 100 division English courses.



Anglo-Saxon literature and Middle English literature, in translation when necessary. Students with credit for ENGL 204 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


"Mourning, Murder and Monsters": Anglo-Saxon Literature in Context

Hall feasts, poetry by firelight, sword fights, and monsters... and Vikings!: the literature of the Anglo-Saxon era might not be extensive but it is fascinating, rich and manifold. In our course we will read poetry, elegies and epic from a period distant from us in many ways (time, space, values, ideas [mentalités] etc.).

We will ask: just who were the Anglo-Saxons? To attempt an answer, we’ll start with a brief historical overview via a short work of non-fiction -- The Anglo-Saxon Age: a Very Short Understanding -- before reading a selection of poems (Dream of the Rood, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Battle of Maldon). The capstone of the course will be a study of Beowulf. We’ll read two translations of it, but Old English will not be required. If time permits, we might read a short Icelandic saga, in translation. (Keep in mind that the Icelandic sagas were written a few hundred years after the end of the Anglo-Saxon era.) One particular focus will be on the complex interplay of Christian and pagan/pre-Christian ideas in this period.

Except for the Seamus Heaney edition of Beowulf, all of the works we need are contained in our primary course textbook: The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology (ed. Kevin Crossley-Holland), which also contains our second translation of Beowulf.

The course will be taught remotely, and all Lectures, Announcements and Assignments will be posted on Canvas (and possibly on YouTube, if desired). There will be very few "live" (synchronous) meetings via Zoom, but there will be some so we can discuss key points. The times for these will be set in consultation with students. All texts will be translated and no grasp of Old English or Old Norse will be required.



There will be two essays, and several short assignments. 

Essay one, due mid-term. 6-8 pages, double spaced: 40%

Essay two, due end-of-term. 6-8 pages, double space: 40%

Four short assignments provided by me: 20%



Beowulf, A New Verse translation (Bilingual edition), Seamus Heaney. Norton, 2001. Any edition of this will work, electronic or otherwise, provided it is the Heaney edition.
ISBN: 9780393320978

The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology, ed. Kevin Crossley-Holland. Oxford, 2009. 
ISBN: 9780199538713

The Anglo-Saxon Age: a Very Short Introduction, John Blair. Oxford University Press, 2000. 
ISBN: 9780192854032

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).