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English 11 Beowulf Day 1. Warm Up Anglo-Saxon Culture The Cultivation of Language Classwork. Warm-Up:. “In reading great literature, I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.” – C.S. Lewis How do you define great literature?

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English 11 beowulf day 1

English 11 Beowulf Day 1

Warm Up

Anglo-Saxon Culture

The Cultivation of Language


Warm up

“In reading great literature, I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.” – C.S. Lewis

How do you define great literature?

How would you paraphrase (put into your own words) C.S. Lewis’s quote?

Write your answer in complete sentences, in the warm-up/journal entries section of your binder.

Enduring understandings eq
Enduring Understandings & EQ

It is important to understand the context of a text in order to read deeply.

Great literature provides rich and timeless insights into the key themes, dilemmas, and challenges that we face.

Understanding the elements of a text helps readers to better comprehend the text.

Essential Questions:

What was life like when Beowulf was written and how does this effect the text?

How will understanding the text features found in Beowulf better help me comprehend the text?

Tribes invade roman ruled england
Tribes Invade Roman Ruled England

Village life

This is a reconstruction of a village in West Stow, Suffolk. Each village consisted of one or more groups of small huts. Each group of huts belonged to an extended family, including slaves. Some huts were for sleeping in and others were workshops. At the centre of each group of huts was a large hall, where the whole family met.

Saxon kings

By 600 AD, Saxon settlements had become small kingdoms. The most important were: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex. At times one king grew powerful enough to be bretwalda, or 'overlord', of the whole country. Any man of the royal family could be king if he gained enough supporters. This led to feuds and war.

Arms and armour

Life in Anglo Saxon England was often very violent. When a village was under attack all of the villagers would grab their weapons and fight. The most usual weapons were spears, swords and battle-axes. For protection, some men wore either a leather or chain mail jerkin and a helmet, and many carried a round wooden shield. The Saxons sometimes built defenses round their towns. They dug a ditch and used the soil to make an earth wall; then they fixed a sturdy fence on top. Saxons could patrol the wall to keep enemies out.

Anglo saxon gods

The earliest Saxon settlers in England were pagans who worshipped a number of gods. The Anglo Saxons carried out sacrifices to please their gods, and tried to use magic spells to get the gods to help them.

The written texts that survive were written not by Saxons, but by monks.

Anglo saxon writings

There are several Anglo Saxon texts that survive today. This is a page from the Lindisfarne Gospels. The Gospels were written and illuminated by monks in the late 7th century in the northeast of England. The oldest English poem, Beowulf, was written between 700 and 750. Before this date, the poem was passed on orally. The Anglo Saxons were also very fond of riddles.

Anglo-Saxon texts are written in Old English, a very different form than what we know of English today.

Beowulf in old english
Beowulf in Old English

Hwæt! We Gardena         in geardagum, þeodcyninga,         þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas         ellen fremedon.


LO, praise of the prowess of people-kingsof spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!

Text elements
Text Elements

  • Kennings

    a metaphorical compound word or phrase substituted for a noun or name. Ex: “mankind’s enemy”

  • Alliteration

    the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words, which helps unify the line. Ex: “So mankind’s enemy continued his crimes.”

  • Personification

    giving human qualities to an object, animal, or idea. Ex: “Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth.”

  • Ceasura

    a pause in the center of a line of poetry

Oral tradition
Oral Tradition

  • Oral tradition - the spreading or passing on of material by word of mouth. Original works were once made known to audiences only by recitation, singing, and memory rather than in the written form. Many folk tales, fables, proverbs, and songs were first the property of common people who repeated or sang them, altering them by accident or on purpose, and taught them to the next generation, and so on.

  • Oral tradition is usually the product of an illiterate or semi-literate society. This is the earliest of all forms of poetry since it preceded written poetry and is still alive in many parts of the world.

  • The term is made up of two words: oral from the Latin ororos, meaning “mouth,” and tradition from the Latin traditio, meaning “action of handing over.”

The epic conventions
The Epic Conventions

ep·icn. – An extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.

An Epic is a long narrative poem that recounts the adventure of a hero. Beowulf is considered to be an epic – in fact, it is the oldest surviving epic written in English.

For the purposes of this class, we will define an epic through 8 specific characteristics/conventions.

Epic conventions
Epic Conventions

1.The hero is a person of high social status and often of great historical or legendary importance.

2.The hero’s actions determine the fate of many people, perhaps his whole nation or civilization.

3.The hero performs courageous and sometimes superhuman deeds that reflect the values of the era.

4.The plot includes supernatural beings and events.

5.The setting has a very large scale, often involving a long and dangerous journey through more than one nation.

6.The hero and sometimes other characters deliver long, formal speeches.

7.The poem uses formal diction, serious tone, and poetic language.

8.The poem treats universal themes such as good and evil or life and death.


Family Crest Assignment

Create a Family crest (a crest is coat of arms which includes symbols relating to your family and a family motto).