Here are some of the daily assignments and topics we discussed via our Google+ Community:
1. Check out the Old English version of The Seafarer. What language does it look like when you glance at it, and why? Now remember that this is a precursor to your own native tongue! Find five words that you can pick out and translate into English without looking at a side-by-side version. Try not to duplicate words with other commenters! Here's the link: http://www8.georgetown.edu/departments/medieval/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/a3.9.html
2. Listen to this podcast of a panel of medieval scholars discussing the Venerable Bede from the BBC Radio show “In Our Time Religion." Then answer these questions. To find the podcast, go to the link given, and scroll through the offerings in the small box on the right side, to find the one called The Venerable Bede. It's about halfway down. The podcast is about 30 minutes long. Read through the questions first so you know what to listen for:
1. Why would Pope Gregory call England “the outermost edge of the known world”?
2. What does it mean when the narrator says, “Dante put him in Paradise”?
3. It’s hard to hear what the speakers are saying about the abbey where Bede worked. It’s spelled Monkwearmouth-Jarrow or Wearmouth-Jarrow. Where is it located, in modern England?
4. The library at Wearmouth-Jarrow was impressive because its founder, Benedict Biscop, was willing to travel far and wide and pay for acquiring books. What price does the panelist give as an example of a really expensive book?
5. What age was Bede when his relatives paid a dowry to the church to “give him” to the religious life?
6. Bede didn’t get promoted past the rank of “priest” in the monastery. Do the scholars feel that this indicates he was a professional failure?
7. In how many church services a day did the monks at Wearmouth-Jarrow participate?
8. Bede’s version of the Bible was the favorite of the Vatican in medieval times and still used until 1963. In what language was it written and how many copies did they make?
9. Why was it really special that Bede’s version of the Bible was contained in a single volume? How was the Bible usually circulated in those days?
10. How many books or sections are there in Bede’s History of the English Church and People?
11. What writing convention did Bede invent to document his sources and reference the books he was using to make his history? Hint: You might use these in a research paper and format them according to MLA standards.
12. What is a propagandist? In what way was Bede a propagandist?
13. The scholars say that Bede’s approval of the translation of his history into Old English was possibly “tinged with regret.” Why?
14. What does it mean that the Old English translation was a “selective translation”?
3. This web site, “Bede’s World,” is the modern internet home of Wearmouth-Jarrow, which you can visit if you go to England, to learn about life in medieval times and experience life as Bede would have seen it. You can even get married there! Go to the web site, and poke around a bit. Then come back and tell me something interesting, or just tell me what’s happening there starting tomorrow.
4. Read about The Exeter Book at this web site and answer these questions.
A) Why did it survive for so many years?
B) What liquid was spilled on its pages?
C) How does the religious attitude of a poem help us to date it?
5. Go to this page and scroll down to the audio recording of Caedmon’s Hymn. How do you think they did, setting it to music?
Now try this video. Caedmon's Hymn in Old English
Which do you think better represented the text? What do you think the creators of each audio file were thinking, when they decided how to read/sing the poem? If you were going to create a recording of Caedmon's Hymn, how would you read/sing it? What sounds might you have in the background?
6. Caedmon lived in Whitby Abbey, which is now in ruin, and which Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, used for inspiration for the original vampire novel. Remember this -- we’ll be reading Dracula next semester! Here's a bit more about that connection.