Beowulf and the Beginnings of English Literature
The new feminist translation of the early English epic Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley (Macmillan, 2020) has brought renewed interest in this stirring medieval saga. Beowulf has a particular cultural position as almost the sole extant imaginative document from its era and as a signpost in the complicated origin story of the English language. Comparing Headley’s translation to earlier versions by Seamus Heaney and J.R.R. Tolkien, we will examine Beowulf’s heroic quest to slay the evil monster Grendel; the roles of gender and power in the presentation of Grendel’s mother; the importance of loyalty, courage, and honor in a dark and dangerous world; and Beowulf’s final struggle against a giant dragon and the metaphysical threats he represents.
You'll Walk Away with
- Familiarity with Beowulf and its fresh, feminist translation
- Understanding of the historical context and cultural significance of Beowulf
- Those with an interest in literary history
- Anyone wishing to examine the story and themes of Beowulf through a feminist lens