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British Literature Writing Portfolio: Beowulf Interpretation

Beowulf was, first, an oral epic, recounted by the Danes and other Scandinavian tribes who came in conquest to the British Isles in the 5th century.  Over the next 400 years, the legend  was transformed and expanded upon, often to suit particular aims and desires of those telling the tale.  For example, when the Pope sent Roman missionaries north to spread Christianity around 800AD, a wealth of biblical references worked their way into Beowulf.  Today, countless versions of Beowulf exist, some as comics, some as cartoons, some as children's stories, and some as serious academic feats.  The tale has been retold on YouTube and on the silver screen, set to music, and turned into a video game.

Your task is to explore the numerous translations from Old or Anglo-Saxon English to today's more common vernaculars.  You might visit the University of Virginia's English Department website for a more "scholarly translation" or listen to a BBC broadcast of the tale.  Note how each translation uses Beowulf as a vehicle for promoting a particular message.

***********************For Friday, February 5, 2011 you need to:

***Choose three Beowulf  translations and  write a brief "Works Cited" correctly noting your sources (video, audio, written, artistic versions, etc.) using APA, MLA, or Chicago styles.  (Your book doesn't count as a translation!)
. . .15 points

***Pick a particular passage of Beowulf and write your own, original translation (based on the other translations you've read).  Remember to add your own style to the piece.  Remember to roughly follow the manner in which Beowulf was written (i.e. This is not an essay!)  Even though, you're recounting a tale told many times, you can still be CREATIVE.  Weave a message of your own into the tale.  Proofread your work. . .spelling and grammar do count.
. . .50 points

***Who is your hero?  Write a paragraph or two comparing and contrasting your hero's strengths and weaknesses with those of Beowulf.  Remember that if you choose a human as your hero, it is important to present both the positive and negative aspects of your character. . .the same goes for Beowulf.  Again, proofread!
. . . .35 points

**In your translation include the following literary elements: caesura, kenning, alliteration. Highlight the elements, and note them in the margins. . .1-3 points per element usage depending on quality

**Include an original artistic translation from Beowulf.  1-10 points depending on quality