Celebrating the origins of English Language and Literature
Illustration of Beowulf (left) from Wikimedia Commons; Portrait of the playwright and poet Shakespeare (right) by Tonynetone on Flickr)
DC Sullivan Library’s latest display case is celebrating the origins of English language, featuring some of the most significant works and authors of British Literature through the 18th Century. The literature that is featured on display covers several periods that span over a thousand years, as well as numerous developments, and outright changes, of the English language. Beginning with one of the earliest pieces of British Literature, the case exhibits a translated version of the epic poem Beowulf, which was written by an unknown author sometime between the 8th and 11th century; as well as significant authors, such as Geoffery Chaucer and Shakespeare, all the way up until the 18th century.
Illustration of Geoffery Chaucer by Wikimedia Commons
Illustration of the Oldest English Poem The Dream of the Rood by Wikipedia
Illustration of John Milton by Wikimedia Commons
Illustration (left) of Geoffrey Chaucer from Wikimedia Commons; Illustration (middle) of the Oldest English Poem The Dream of the Rood from Wikipedia; Illustration (right) of John Milton from Wikimedia Commons
This case is relevant for anybody and everybody who speaks English, because it represents the origins of our language, as it even exhibits works of the earliest English dialect, known as Old English, which was spoken by the Anglo-Saxons. Additionally, Dominican College’s very own British Literature I class (Fall 2017), and Professor Dr. Robert Stauffer, will be supplementing the case with a series of timeline posters that will fill in all of the blanks of the several time periods that the case pursues to cover.
Come check out the display during Finals Week, when the Library Hours are extended until 2 AM, and snacks are provided. To read more in depth about these subjects, visit the timeline posters that will be put up during Finals Week, or check out one of the many books available on the topic at Sullivan Library. Some books that are exhibited in the case, which can also be checked out at any time, will be provided below.
Beowulf: a New Verse Translation, Translated by Seamus Heaney
This is a translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, which is a heroic narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, who saves the Danes from the apparently indomitable monster Grendel, as well as from Grendel’s mother. After this feat, the hero returns to his own nations, where he is killed in an honorable battle with a dragon, that he is also able to kill and save his country before he ultimately dies. This poem was evidently written in segments, and was not meant to be read all at once when it was originally written; which explains the vast amount of Beowulf’s life that is covered throughout the entirety of the epic.
Poems From the Old English, Translated by Burton Raffel
This book organized the most significant Old English poems, except for Beowulf, in a manner that is comprehensive for researching, studying, and teaching. This book organizes the poems into four categories, which are elegies, heroic poems, religious poems, and wisdom poetry;
Shakespeare’s Symmetries: The Mirrored Structure of Action in the Plays, by James E. Ryan
While Shakespeare’s narratives vary from play to play, the thematic action is structured in a patterned manner, which leads critics and readers to consider how these plays are thematically organized, and whether thorough attention was paid to their placements when they were crafted by Shakespeare in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Ryan describes these thematic patterns as an arch, and their relevance is that they allow us to recognize aspects of the poem that otherwise couldn’t be.
Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literature from More to Milton, by Rebecca Totaro
This book focuses on the Bubonic Plague and its influences on English Literature from 1500 through the first half of the 18th century. Men and women of these harsh times had to search for an understanding of man’s relationship with nature, as well as to which degree they held their faith in their nation and their God.