Literary Criticism (Beowulf)

See also Sources and Analogues.

1. Anthologies

* Baker, P.S., ed. Beowulf: Basic Readings. New York: Garland P, 1995.

Bessinger, Jess B. and Robert F. Yeager, eds. Approaches to Teaching Beowulf. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1984.

Bjork, Robert E. and John D. Niles, eds., A Beowulf Handbook. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997.

* Chase, Colin. The Dating of Beowulf. Toronto Old English Series, 6. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1981. This book of essays, along with Kiernan's Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript destroyed the old consensus that Beowulf is an eighth-century poem.

Fulk, R.D., ed. Interpretations of Beowulf: A Critical Anthology. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1991.

Nicholson, Lewis E. An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 1963. Dated; still useful.

2. Books

Amos, Ashley Crandell. Linguistic Means of Determining the Dates of Old English Literary Texts. Medieval Academy Books, 90. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy, 1980. Always cited in discussions of date of Beowulf.

Bonjour, Adrien. The Digressions in Beowulf. Medium Ævum Monographs, 5. Oxford: Blackwell, 1950.

Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist. The Art of Beowulf. Berkeley: U of California P, 1959. Excellent reading from the "New Critical" era.

Damico, Helen. Beowulf's Wealhtheow and the Valkyrie Tradition. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1984. Informative and stimulating, but to be read with caution.

Davis, Craig R. Beowulf and the Demise of Germanic Legend in England. New York: Garland, 1996.

Deskis, Susan E. Beowulf and the Medieval Proverb Tradition. Tempe, Ariz.: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1996.

Earl, James W. Thinking about Beowulf. Stanford, 1994.

Girvan, Ritchie. Beowulf and the Seventh Century. 1935; rpt. with new chapter by Rupert Bruce-Mitford, London: Methuen, 1971. The "new" matter by Bruce-Mitford is about Sutton Hoo.

Hill, John M. The Cultural World in Beowulf. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1995.

Huppé, Bernard F. The Hero in the Earthly City: A Reading of Beowulf. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 33. Binghamton, NY: CEMERS, 1984. Rigidly Robertsonian/Augustinian reading. Includes a translation (also published separately).

Irving, Edward B. A Reading of Beowulf. New Haven: Yale UP, 1968. Classic "New Critical" reading.

Irving, Edward B. Rereading Beowulf. Philadelphia : U of Pennsylvania P, c1989. Follows up previous item.

Newton, Sam. The Origins of Beowulf and the Pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia. Cambridge: Brewer, 1992.

Niles, John D. Beowulf: The Poem and Its Tradition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1983. Classic study from an oral-formulaic point of view (the word "tradition" in the title is usually the tipoff).

* Overing, Gillian R. Language, Sign, and Gender in Beowulf. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois UP, 1990. Controversial and stimulating.

* Robinson, Fred C. Beowulf and the Appositive Style. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, c1985. An important, and brief, study. See also the essays on Beowulf in his two collections of essays (listed under Criticism (General).

Sisam, Kenneth. The Structure of Beowulf. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1965. A little classic.

Stanley, Eric Gerald. In the Foreground: Beowulf. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1994.

* Whitelock, Dorothy. The Audience of Beowulf. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1951. A historian's view: very important, and short.

3. Selected Articles

Benson, Larry D. "The Literary Character of Anglo-Saxon Formulaic Poetry," PMLA 81 (1966): 334-341. Debunks Magoun (below).

Lapidge, Michael. "Beowulf, Aldhelm, the Liber Monstrorum and Wessex," Studi Medievali 3rd ser. 23 (1982): 151-92. Slightly heterodox, very important.

Magoun, Francis P. Jr. "The Oral-Formulaic Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry." Speculum 28 (1953): 446-67. Reprinted in the anthologies by Fulk and Nicholson. A classic; should be read in conjunction with Benson, "The Literary Character" (above).

* Tolkien, J.R.R. "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics." Proceedings of the British Academy 22 (1936): 245-95. Issued separately 1936, paginated 1-53. Reprinted in the anthologies by Fulk and Nicholson. Everyone should read this essay.

Wormald, Patrick. "Bede, Beowulf, and the Conversion of the Anglo-Saxon Aristocracy," in Robert T. Farrell, ed., Bede and Anglo-Saxon England: Papers in Honour of the 1300th Anniversary of the Birth of Bede, Given at Cornell University in 1973 and 1974, British Archaeological Reports no. 46 (London, 1978), 32-95. A historian's point of view.

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