21L.705 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Major Authors: Old English and Beowulf

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21L.705 Major Authors: Old English and Beowulf as it was taught by Associate Professor Arthur Bahr in Spring 2014.

Traditionally, this is a two semester sequence with the first semester covering Old English and the second semester focusing on reading Beowulf. This course, however, compressed Old English vocabulary and grammar into the first six weeks, followed by reading and literary critical conversations of several passages in Old English, riddles and Beowulf.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

Students should be able to read Old English. When faced with a sentence in Old English, students should be able to navigate it - identifying the verb, subject and cases.

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

Because of interest from the students in this course, professor Bahr extended Old English and Beowulf into a more advanced course.

Instructor Interview

"My goal for the course was for students to read Old English. I wanted them, if they were faced with a sentence in Old English, to be able to confidently navigate it."
—Arthur Bahr

In the following pages, Professor Bahr describes various aspects of how he taught 21L.705 Major Authors: Old English and Beowulf.

Curriculum Information


Completion of 2 previous literature courses.

Requirements Satisfied

  • CI-M
  • HASS-H


21L.705 is a seminar course taught in the spring and fall semesters, though the instructor and focal topics vary. This was the first iteration of 21L.705 Major Authors: Old English and Beowulf.


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 15% Daily vocab quizzes
  • 30% Exams 1 and 2 (15% each)
  • 30% Final exam
  • 25% Participation

Student Information


About 12 students

Breakdown by Year

Students were predominantly juniors or seniors, with a few sophomores and graduate students.

Breakdown by Major

Students were mostly non-majors, with a small number of literature double majors.

Enrollment Cap

12 students

Ideal Class Size

10-12 students is the ideal size because each class session included translation activities completed by each student in succession.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 25 sessions total; mandatory attendance
  • Vocab quiz at the start of each class, followed by student questions
  • Every session included translations by each student and class discussions
  • Discussion of mock exams in 2 sessions
  • 3 exams

Out of Class

  • Completed readings
  • Completed vocab and grammar activities from Baker
  • Completed mock exams

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
theaters Demonstration Videos
grading Exams with Solutions
co_present Instructor Insights