Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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English 3450a: Introductory Old English (Fall 2006)

Posted: Nov 08, 2006 20:11;
Last Modified: Jan 03, 2007 21:01


About this course

This course introduces students to the language and literature of Anglo-Saxon England (a period extending from approximately CE 449 to 1200).

Our principal task will be to learn the language. We will also be enjoying some of the most sophisticated prose and verse literature of the early Middle Ages and some time will be set aside for class discussion.

Learning goals

By the end of the course, students should be prepared for further study in Old English, other medieval languages and literatures, or the History of English. They should have a solid working knowledge of English grammar (historical and contemporary), and initial experience working with the physical monuments of the period.



Assignment Value
Quizzes and participation 5%
Test 1: Inflections, Personal Pronouns, Masculine Strong Nouns, Demonstrative Pronouns (Week 5) 10%
Test 2: Conjugations and Declensions (Week 10) 20%
Essay 1/Presentation (Week 7) 15%
Essay 2 (Friday 8/12) 20%
Final Exam 30%

General policies

The following policies will be followed in all my classes unless otherwise announced. You are expected to be familiar with these policies and any other documents cited here. Failure to conform to these policies may result in your grade being lowered.

Grade scale

The University of Lethbridge keeps track of student performance using a letter and grade point system (See section 4 of the University Calendar). Instructors assign students a letter grade at the end of each course (the University does not issue or keep track of mid-term grades). These letter grades are converted to a numerical value (a Grade Point) for assessing overall academic performance (a Grade Point Average or GPA). The University does not record percentage-type grades and does not have a fixed scale for conversion from percentage scores to letter grades and grade points. Each instructor is responsible for determining their own methodology for determining students’ final letter grade.

In my classes, I use the following letter-grade to percentage correspondences:

Excellent Good Satisfactory Poor Minimal pass Failing
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
Percent range 100-94 93-90 89-86 85-82 81-78 77-74 73-70 69-66 65-62 61-58 57-50 49-0
Conventional value 100 92 88 84 80 76 72 68 64 60 56 49-0
Grade point 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0

How your grade is determined depends on the type of work being assessed. Tests of specific skills or knowledge (such as identification questions in literature classes, or fact-oriented tests in my grammar and language classes) are usually assigned a numeric score which is easily converted to a percentage. Essays, presentations, and other performance-oriented tests are usually graded by letter. I convert letter grades to percentages by taking the median value in each grade-range, and rounding up to the nearest whole percent (the only exceptions are A+ [which is converted to 100%], and F [which is converted to an arbitrary percentage between 0% and 49% based on my estimation of the work’s quality]). These scores can be found in the conventional value row of the above table.

In marking work I try to keep the University’s official description of these grades in mind (a description can be found in the University Calendar, Part IV.3.a). If you get an A it means your work is excellent; a B means your work is good; a C means it is satisfactory; a D that it is poor; and an F that it is failing to meet University-level standards.

Class schedule

The following schedule is intended to help you plan your work for the semester. I reserve the right to make changes.

Week Date Topic Readings Due
1 Mon. 4/9 Labour Day (no class)
Wed. 6/9 Syllabus    
Fri. 8/9 Introduction: The Anglo-Saxon Period: Historical, Literary, and Linguistic overview (lecture)    
2 Mon. 11/9 Introduction: Spelling and Pronunciation §§ 1-4: About Old English; §§ 5-9: Orthography and Pronunciation 1.a-1.c Practice Sentences
Wed. 13/9 Old English as an Inflectional Language §§ 10-12: Old English Inflections; §§ 18-21: Personal Pronouns; § 127 beon ‘to be’ 2 The Fall of Man, 1-7
Fri. 16/9     2 The Fall of Man, 8-14
3 Mon. 18/9 Strong Nouns and Demonstrative Pronouns §§ 33 Masculine Strong Nouns; §§ 16, 17: Demonstrative Pronouns 2 The Fall of Man, 15-21
Wed. 20/9     The Fall of Man, 22-28
Fri. 22/9     The Fall of Man, 29-35
4 Mon. 25/9     The Fall of Man, 36-42 (end)
Wed. 27/9 Review/Catchup
Fri. 29/9 Review/Catchup
5 Mon. 2/10 More Declensions: Weak nouns, Adjectives, Strong Feminine and Neuter Nouns §§ 34, 37: Strong Feminine and Neuter Nouns, §§ 25, 63-65: Weak Nouns and Adjectives 3 Ælfric’s Colloquy, 1-36
Wed. 4/10     3 Ælfric’s Colloquy, 37-72
Fri. 6/10     3 Ælfric’s Colloquy, 73-108
6 Mon. 9/10 No Classes
Wed. 11/10 Introduction to Old English Verbs §§ 87-88, 114: Introduction to OE Verbs; §§ 110-113: Strong Verb singan 3 Ælfric’s Colloquy, 109-134
Fri. 13/10   §§ 124-125: Weak Verb lufian 3 Ælfric’s Colloquy, 135-170
7 Mon. 16/10     3 Ælfric’s Colloquy, 171-216 (end)
Wed. 18/10 ‘Irregular’ Verbs: habban, beon, weorðan §§ 126, 127; A.3b: habban, _beon, weorðan 4 Life of St. Edmund, 125 (beginning)-145
Fri. 20/10     4 Life of St. Edmund, 146-165
8 Mon. 23/10 Classes of Strong Verbs §§ 26-32: Vowels; §§ 87-95: Principal Parts of the Strong Verb 4 Life of St. Edmund, 166-185
Wed. 25/10     4 Life of St. Edmund, 186-205
Fri. 27/10     4 Life of St. Edmund, 206-225
9 Mon. 30/10     4 Life of St. Edmund, 226-245
Wed. 1/11     4 Life of St. Edmund, 246-265
Fri. 3/11 Review/Catchup
10 Mon. 6/11 Introduction to Old English Syntax §§ 139-142: Outline of Differences between Old and Modern English Syntax 4 Life of St. Edmund, 266-285
Wed. 8/11 Basic Old English Syntax I: Anticipation and ‘Splitting of Heavy Groups’; Strong and weak Adjectives §§ 143-149: Anticipation and ‘Splitting of Heavy Groups’; §§ 66-67 Strong Adjectives (learn using gōd (‘good’) not til). 4 Life of St. Edmund, 286-305
Fri. 10/11     4 Life of St. Edmund, 306-331 (end)
11 Mon. 13/11 No Classes
Wed. 15/11     9 Cædmon Story, 1-35
Fri. 17/11 Basic Old English Syntax II: Correlation and Parataxis §§ 152-153: Correlation; §§ 182-185: Parataxis 9 Cædmon Story, 36-44 (the Hymn)
12 Mon. 20/11     9 Cædmon Story, 45-79
Wed. 22/11 Adjective Clauses §§ 162-165: Adjective (relative) clauses 9 Cædmon Story, 80-125 (end)
Fri. 24/11     11.a-d Riddles
13 Mon. 27/11 Adverb Clauses §§ 166-172 11.e-g Riddles
Wed. 29/11 Noun Clauses §§ 154-161: Noun Clauses and Conjunctions 11.h-j Riddles
Fri. 1/12     11.k-p Riddles
14 Mon. 4/12 Catchup and Review
Wed. 6/12 Catchup and Review
Fri. 8/12 Catchup and Review




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