Anglo saxon literature 449 1066
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Anglo Saxon Literature (449—1066). II. Anglo Saxon Literature. Introduction to British Literature 1. What literature is 2. Early Literature and the Epic. --characteristics of the epic. 3. The Personality of England. a. Timeline of British Literature and Thought

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Anglo Saxon Literature (449—1066)

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Anglo Saxon Literature (449—1066)

II. Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Introduction to British Literature

    1. What literature is

    2. Early Literature and the Epic

--characteristics of the epic

3. The Personality of England

a. Timeline of British Literature and Thought

449 1066 1492 1660 1790 1830 1914 1945


Anglo- Medieval Rennais. Reason Rom. Victor. Mod. Anxiety


b. Britain’s Island Personality

  • Strongly independent

  • Individual freedom—

    Anglo-Saxon heritage

    worth of the individual)

  • Strongly traditional – _____ system (medieval)

    mistrust of the _________ class

    ______ family into the 21st century

B. Anglo Saxon Literature

I. Anglo Saxon Literature (449—1066)

  • Introduction—Historical and Philosophical Background

    1. Germanic invasions (Britons [Celts] conquered by Romans—Romans leave—Germanic barbarians invade

    a. Angles

    b. Saxons

    c. Jutes

Germanic Invasions of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes

Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Primitive Heroic Ideal

    a. Ideal of Kingly


    b. The Warrior ideals

    c. Goal—win enduring


A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Christianity and Written Culture Arrive

    a. 597—Augustine (no, not that one) arrives in England and brings writing and a new morality

    --earlier Celts and Romans had been Christians

  • The Venerable Bede

  • Alfred, King of the West Saxons (871—899)

A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Old English Poetry

    a. written literature in England begins in 7th century

    b. Before that—the scop

A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

c. Mead, mead halls, and mead hall lifestyle

A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

d. The Spirit of Old English Poetry

1. dark world; little _________; warrior life

2. style (no “romantic” poetry)

3. but—OE poetry had


--ironic __________________

--subtle and intense depiction of the nature

or reality—no sentimentality—wyrd (____)

A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Types of Anglo Saxon Literature

    a. heroic epic—long narrative whose main character is THE EPIC HERO

    --great bravery

    --super human ability


A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

b. Elegiac lyrics—express thoughts and


c. Riddles—guessing games

--shows Anglo Saxon love of

A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Style of Literature—A--S Literary Techniques





B. Beowulf: the earliest epic poem in English

B. Beowulf

  • Introduction

    a. Great epic poem of the Anglo Saxon age

    b. English writing about their Germanic forebears

    c. originally oral (scops) but written down later (early 700s) by a Christian (the “Beowulf poet”)

B. Beowulf (introduction)

  • Beowulf is a profound mixture of two sets of values

    1. Anglo Saxon _________


    2. Christian _______ and God

2. Meanings in Beowulf

  • Surface level

    b. Not just about feuds but about a deeper

    sense of evil—what does Beowulf say about evil?

    --the symbolism of the monster

2. Meanings in Beowulf (con’t.)

C. What does Beowulf say about the Heroic Ideal?

--bravery is the instrument by which the hero realizes himself

--Hrothgar compared to Beowulf—shows what?

--Beowulf meets his doom but not before he shows his ______________

2. Meanings in Beowulf

  • Philosophical level

    --what does Beowulf say about:

    fate (wyrd)?

    --sense of doom

    knowledge of death

    bravery and courage

2. Meanings in Beowulf

  • Psychological / archetypal level

    1. The hero’s journey (the monomyth)

    2. What does Beowulf say about being human?

Setting and Characters

  • Herot—

  • Hrothgar—

  • Beowulf—

  • Grendel

3. Setting and Characters

  • Grendel’s mother—

  • Swamp--

  • Dragon—

  • Wiglaf--

4. Symbolism in Beowulf

  • Psychological

    (swamp, Grendel, mother,


  • Social

    (Hrothgar, Beowulf,


  • Universal (G., G.’s mother,

    the dragon, the treasure,

    the tower

5. Conclusion

The Anglo Saxon people, like all people, were much like us, dealing with—

--a dangerous and seemingly uncaring world

--what being human means

--what living with bravery and honor means

--battling the monsters that endanger us

They were our grand—parents who lived in difficult times with pride and courage.

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