Eight Videos about Beowulf


A selection of some of the most interesting videos on the web that talk about the Old English poem Beowulf:

Beowulf in 60 Seconds

From 60 Second Recap: “So Beowulf may have been written hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years ago, but its message is surprisingly modern. Beowulf is all about what it takes to be a hero.”

Beowulf: Story, Characters, and Old English

Elspeth Green of Princeton University: “We’re going to talk about Beowulf, and he’s super exciting. We’re going to talk about the form of the poem, we’re going to talk about what happens, and we’re going to talk about why we care, because it’s old. It’s so old – this is like the oldest thing ever. Scholars like to fight about whether it was composed in the 8th century or the 11th century, but it doesn’t really matter for us because either one of those things is still really, really old.”

Beowulf – Summary and Analysis by Thug Notes

Sparky Sweets, PhD tells us why Beowulf was the illest warrior in da world! Thug Notes has quite the list of videos – check out this article about them from the New York Times.

Beowulf, Authorship and Anglo-Saxon Literature

‘What is a Writer?’ In his talk on the Old English poem Beowulf, Francis Leneghan discusses that very concern. The term ‘author’ does not convey the same static quality in the Anglo-Saxon period as it does in the modern day. Beowulf could have existed in a multiple of versions, depending on how many Anglo-Saxon poets (scops) were around to interpret and re-tell the tale, much like the many interpretations of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. He also discuses the poet’s taste for poetic license, taste, and embellishment that his own character, Beowulf, possesses. The poet invites the audience to consider the complex role of oral poetry, and how the audience – both Anglo-Saxon and modern – should interpret this work. Is this particular poet’s rendition of events true? Is Beowulf a less trustworthy individual since he embellishes the nature of the fight when reporting back to Hygelac’s court? Every performance and reading reshapes the poem and how we approach it, even to the modern day. The Beowulf-poet, in a sense, is more of a collective noun than an individual author.

A Brief Summary of Beowulf

A pretty funny, if not necessarily the most accurate, summary of the story

Beowulf in Lejre

Professor Brian Patrick McGuire tells about the Beowulf-poem and it’s relation to Lejre, a Viking age-site in Denmark.

Adapting Beowulf: Text, History and Dramatic Form

Dr. Craig Jordan-Baker giving a presentation at the University of Brighton on February 26, 2014 – In recent years, the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, has attracted much artistic attention in the form of several films Zemeckis (2007), Gunnarsson (2005) an opera Taylor (2006) and book adaptations, Stern (2013), Hinds (2007). This attention suggests not only the thematic and dramatic richness of the poem, but also indicates a wider desire by contemporary artists to investigate and maintain a relationship with canonical texts. This paper discusses how the adaptation of well-known source material in the context of a multi-disciplinary dramatic production provides a way of considering and re-evaluating the interrelationship between text, textual history and dramatic form. To do this, the author uses the example of his recent adaptation of Beowulf, produced by Barely Human Puppets, combining puppetry, poetry and music to re-tell and re-focus the tale for a modern audience.

“What has Beowulf to do with Christian Kings?” Heroic Legend as Poetic Speculum Prinicpis

Paper by Jonathan M. Broussard, Louisiana State University, given at the Vagantes Medieval Graduate Student Conference at Indiana University in March 2012

In AD 797, the Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin wrote a letter to Bishop Higbald of Lindisfarne wherein he asked, “What has Ingeld to do with Christ?” He wrote this letter as a response to the monks telling secular, specifically heathen, stories about warrior heroes. This question, and similar questions asked by other medieval theologians articulates the divide between the ideals of pagan heroism and Christian living. While previous scholars have hypothesized that Beowulf was a response to Alcuin’s complaint, this paper will explore the poem as a rhetorical text intended for a royal audience and not a religious one. Through a rhetorical analysis based in grounded theory that analyzes fifteen speeches and their contexts made by Hroðgar, Beowulf, and Wiglaf, I will show how the poet appropriated the Beowulf legend to present a dramatized speculum principis using the rhetorical devices common to oral-traditional narratives to articulate the three traits of kingship most highly valued by both secular and sacred authorities: generosity, faith, and protectiveness.


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