Old English Language & Literature

Course Details

Course Number
4753 & attachment for 5753
Section Number
4753 & attachment for 5753
Fall 2011
Dillard College of Business Administration
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF 12 – 12:50 PM Dillard 328

Dr. Peter Fields (view Profile)


A Gentle Introduction to Old English
Broadview Press 2011 by Murray McGillivray
Old English Reader
Broadview Press 2011 Edited by Murray McGillivray
Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition
Anchor Books Edited by Howell D. Chickering, Jr.

Course Objectives

Catalog Description:

Old English Language & Literature

Prerequisites: Six hours of English beyond 1123 or consent of chair.

Language, literature, and world view of Anglo-Saxon England. Emphasis on Beowulf and the epic tradition.

English Department Goals:

GOAL 1. Critical Inquiry Objective

1.1: Student engages in an increasingly sophisticated discourse and demonstrates aesthetic and critical discernment through close textual analysis.

Objective 1.2: Student evaluates secondary sources and applies skills in information gathering and management, and document design, using traditional sources and emerging technologies.

GOAL 2. Knowledge of Language and Literature

Objective 2.1: Student understands the usage and structure of the English language.

Objective 2.2: Student recognizes the stylistic techniques that distinguish key literary texts relevant to subject and genre.

Objective 2.3: Student is familiar with the legacy of important ideas and contexts associated with literary periods.

Objective 2.4: Student is introduced to academic and professional publications in the field.

GOAL 3. Writing as Process

Objective 3.1: Student reflects on his or her arguments over multiple stages of development.

Objective 3.2: Using traditional resources and emerging technologies, the student references and formats primary and secondary sources in MLA style.

GOAL 4. Engagement

Objective 4.1: Student is aware of a cultural context for his or her own values and those of his or her sources.

Course Expectations

Objectives in Old English Language & Literature

  • Translate key passages from Old English translation of scripture (Genesis 22:1-19; Luke 2:1-21).
  • Translate key passages of Old English elegies from the Exeter Book (The Wife’s Lament, The Wanderer, and The Seafarer)
  • Translate key passages from Old English riddles from the Exeter Book.
  • Translate key passages from Beowulf.
  • For all translation, indicate verb tense (conjugation) and noun cases (declension) with their adjectives, as well as demonstratives, adverbs, and pronouns.
  • Translate at length from Beowulf (Final Exam) and identify attributes of 50 vocabulary from the passage chosen for translation.
  • Participate in class review and discussion of Old English grammar and literature.

Grading Standards

Grading The course presumes a possible total of 1000 points (100 percent). A total of 895 points (89.5 percent) or higher would be an A; 795-894 points (79.5 percent to 89.4 percent) would be a B; 695-794 points (69.5 to 79.4 percent) would be a C; 595-694 points (59.5 to 69.4 percent) would be a D; 594 or fewer points would not be a passing grade.

The Blue Book Final Exam is 300 points or 30 percent of the final grade. For each missed or wrong word in the translation, students lose a point from 100 points; for each missed or wrong definition or attribute of vocabulary, students lose a point from 200 points.

Each quiz is only 20 points (out of 1000 possible points), but taken together the quiz grade (comprising both daily translation and identification of grammar and vocabulary) is worth 70 percent of the final grade.

 FINAL EXAM. Blue Book Wednesday, December 7th, at 3:30 to 5:30 PM. Final Exam is NOT Open Book. Translation of passage (minimum of 15 lines) from BEOWULF. Students might consider choosing a passage included in Chickering’s explication, pages 422-446 or from the selection glossed in the Old English Reader. Pre-enter passage in the Blue Book: you may photocopy OE from Chickering (without the translation or explication) or Old English Reader, and affix it inside the Blue Book cover. You must first translate the passage (for 100 points, one point off for each error) and then indicate up to FOUR attributes of 50 words, including definitions (for 200 points, one point for each attribute). If you indicate noun, verb, or adjective, you must say “strong” or “weak.” Indicative and imperative moods are not point-worthy, but the subjunctive would be. In some cases (perhaps a relative pronoun or adverb), words may be indeclinable, but you would indicate such (worth a point).(300 points)

Final Exam

12/07/2011 3:30-5:30 PM

Submission Format Policy

 Quizzes are taken on the student’s own loose-leaf paper and administered fifteen minutes before class ends (five minutes for book exercise; five for translation; five for grammar & definition). Quiz answers must be precise and legible (unreadable, vague, and half-correct answers are completely wrong). For grammar & definition, it not enough to say verb, noun, or adjective—must include “strong” or “weak.” All translation should strive to be as literal as possible but still idiomatic. The instructor will indicate which verses or lines must be translated.

 First Five Weeks (featuring A Gentle Introduction to Old English). Each error the instructor catches in the book exercise (3b, 4b, etc) is worth one point (open book); each error in translation of the assigned Old English passage is one point per word (open book): e.g., Translating God wolde þâ fandian Abrahames ġehiersumnesse as “God then wanted to test Abraham” misses two words in the opinion of the instructor: “God then wanted to test Abraham’s <span class="scayt-misspell" data-scayt_word="obedience." "="" data-scaytid="1">obedience.” Each error in grammar & definition of an Old English word (or words) is also a point (closed book). The book exercise is 5 points total; translation, 10 points; grammar & definition, 5 points (later 10 points). Quiz time may lengthen on any given day.

 For grammar & definition, the word is chosen by the instructor from the glossary of the assigned Old English passage (e.g., the glossary on p. 103, across from p. 102 of Abraham and Isaac) and students say five things about it (for five points), including definition: e.g.,aras: third person, singular, preterite, strong verb, “arose” (see A Gentle Introduction 103). There can be variation: e.g., the instructor may ask students to identify the person (first, second, or third) of three verbs and the case (nominative, accusative, genitive, or dative) of two nouns. Later, grammar & definition increase to 10 answers. The grammar & definition part of the quiz comes last and is CLOSED BOOK.There is no extra credit in this course.

Second Five Weeks (featuring the Old English Reader). Translation in these quizzes is OPEN BOOK from the Old English Reader (10 points). The instructor indicates which lines from the assigned reading for that day should be translated (one point per word). The grammar & definition is CLOSED BOOK. The instructor will indicate at least two words from the glossary (as pertaining to the assigned passage for that day) which need five attributes including definition or variation coming to 10 items for 10 points. Quiz time may lengthen on any given day.

Third Five Weeks (featuring both Chickering’s Beowulf and the Old English Reader). Translation in these quizzes is CLOSED BOOK (10 points). The assigned passage from Chickering will be on the overhead projector. The grammar & definition words, as indicated by the instructor, will continue to come from glossary of Old English Reader and will be (as before) CLOSED BOOK (10 points). Quiz time may lengthen on any given day.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

 Absence due to Documented Illness

If students are too ill to attend class and take their quiz, they may take a make-up test by appointment with the instructor if they have documentation from Vinson clinic, their doctor, a therapist, or court officer, or some other authority. The instructor will accept a message from the Dean of Students office as well (regarding family emergency). Absence for the sake of others requires similar documentation. If students are too ill for the final exam, the same policy applies.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

 Attendance Policy

Roll is taken right away as soon as class begins. The instructor is not obliged to count people present who arrive late. A student with three unexcused absences receives a warning from the instructor. As of the fourth unexcused absence, the instructor reserves the right to notify the Dean of Students and to initiate removal of the student from the course.

Other Policies

 Academic Dishonesty

Part of the daily quiz (grammar & identification) is CLOSED BOOK. Even the appearance of cheating may result in a quiz awarded a “0” (no points).  The same goes for the Blue Book. Cheating at any point results in the entire quiz or exam receiving a "0." 

 The closed book part of a quiz cannot begin unless everything is removed from the desktop except for the paper for the quiz. The Blue Book is closed book—only the Blue Book (checked by the instructor) can be on the desk-top when the test begins.

The instructor will not confront students in class. The student suspected of cheating will be contacted individually. Students suspected of cheating may be referred to the Dean of Students for further penalty under university policies for academic dishonesty.

 Classroom Policies 

  • There is NO tobacco or facsimile quasi-tobacco use of any sort including electronic cigarettes or chew tobacco.
  • In the Dillard classroom there must be no eating or drinking WHATSOEVER.
  • Except for emergencies, students shouldn’t text or talk on their “cells” during class. If something serious is at stake, students should take the call outside.
  • Students may go to the restroom as the need arises except when the instructor is explaining a detailed point to the whole class.
  • Most importantly, students should know that we write translation and answer grammar & definition questions in class.
  • Students will be expected to answer questions and participate.
  • During discussion, students will contribute suggestions and answers which may be broadcast on the big screen.
  • Participation may include presenting in front of the room including use of the big screen.
  • Students must have the instructor’s permission to leave class early.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at