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Baby Steps to Beowulf: Old English for Beginners

August 13, 2022 at 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

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In this series—Baby Steps to Beowulf: Old English for Beginnerslinguist Colin Gorrie will teach you how to read Old English texts like Beowulf with the aid of a dictionary.

Like every language, English has a past. More than many languages, English has changed dramatically over the years: the language as spoken just a thousand years ago would be incomprehensible to us today.

And it is a pity, because this Old English language has a rich and beautiful literature: from heroic poems like Beowulf, to elegiac poems like The Wanderer or The Seafarer, to historical narratives such as The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Yet for most people these riches will remain inaccessible, except through the distorting lens of translation.

The only solution is to learn to read Old English. That is just what this series proposes to teach you how to do.

Over the course of 8 weeks, we will meet weekly to read short texts in Old English together, starting with short prose texts and gradually progressing to longer and more complex texts until, by the end, you will have made a start on Beowulf. The readings will be supplemented with explanations of important historical or grammatical points, but the focus will be on the readings.


We will do the readings together when we meet, so no need to worry about doing them in advance. But if you’d like to know what’s coming up…

  • Week 1 (July 9): Matthew 7: 24–27
  • Week 2 (July 16): Matthew 12: 18–21
  • Week 3 (July 23): Matthew 13: 3–8
  • Week 4 (July 30): Matthew 13: 24–30
  • Week 5 (August 6): Matthew 20: 1–16
  • Week 6 (August 13): Matthew 25: 1–13
  • Week 7 (August 20): Matthew 25: 14–30
  • Week 8 (August 27): Beowulf 1–11


This series is only available as a series ticket. Individual entries will not be sold individually.


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August 13, 2022
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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