Length: 1,000 word essay minimum (about 4 double-spaced typewritten pages) and 1,500 words maximum; most of the words should be your words.
Format: 12-point font, word-processed, double-spaced, using MLA format, including first-page heading, title, and repeating header with page number. Must submit Word-compatible file in Blackboard for grading with the possibility of revision. If you submit a .pdf or other file in which I cannot easily insert comments, you forfeit the ability to revise.
Points Available: 100
Use Conventions of Literary Analysis: Write in third person—no use of “I” or “you”; write in the present tense.
Research: No secondary research is allowed, but you may cite historical or introductory material from your textbook, the Bible, or class lectures/LTs.
Quotations: Cite author or piece of literature as appropriate (if not identified in a signal phrase) and line numbers in parentheses after quotations, using MLA format.
Example Papers: Some good examples are posted in Blackboard; you should read these and then put them away to avoid plagiarism. You may not quote or cite the example papers.
Works Cited: You do need a Works Cited section (not started on a separate page; just begin it at the end of your paper), however. It will simply be brief. You will be citing the pieces of literature from NAEL that you are writing about and you may also cite non-literature information from your textbook as mentioned above.
Thesis: Include a clear thesis that makes an argument. Use well-integrated quotations and paraphrases from the text to support your claim.
Choose one of these prompts to answer:
Anglo-Saxon literary works address a Christian audience yet affirm the values of the warrior cultures in power during the 700s-1000s. Compare and contrast the Christian and secular/pagan/Anglo-Saxon elements of two works from the early Middle Ages.
You may choose from “The Wife’s Lament,” “The Dream of the Rood,” and Beowulf. Discuss the inclusion of secular/pagan elements as well as Christian elements and how the various elements develop (and/or complicate) the piece as a whole. Draw specific examples from each writer to support your explanations. You may not use Grendel for this paper.
Your paper should respond to this prompt by articulating and developing a thesis that tells the reader what aspect of the two works you choose will form the framework by which you will examine the pagan and Christian elements of the works. For example, if you choose to look at heroism in “The Dream of the Rood” and Beowulf, then your thesis might look at pagan traits of a hero and reference the Anglo-Saxon heroic code, giving examples from each work that show pagan heroic traits. Your thesis would also look at Christian traits in both works that a hero might have and detail how these traits appear in each work. Finally, note what kind of tension or other dynamic the presence of two sometimes conflicting religions/ideologies creates for the reader. What is the reader supposed to think about Germanic warriors in Beowulf who were never Christian but who espouse Christian values? What might the reader take away from Christ’s heroic actions in “The Dream of the Rood” that would likely appeal to a pagan audience? What can the reader understand from those same heroic actions in the context of Christian values?
Other approaches to this prompt might include ideas such as kingship (both Beowulf and Christ are kings, so what traits of kingship do Beowulf and Christ share when thinking about the heroic code and Christian values?), loyalty (what characters in each poem function as loyal thanes or retainers; how does the king/hero figure in each poem inspire and reward loyalty?), or heroic deeds (what heroic deeds does each hero accomplish, and how do these deeds line up with the heroic code or Christian values?). Another possibility is examining the narrator in each poem and looking at evidence of the narrator’s relationship to Christianity, Christian values, or the heroic code. Remember that the narrator in “The Dream of the Rood” is the dreamer, but within the dream, the narrator is the Rood; in “The Wife’s Lament,” the narrator is presumed to be a real individual, the wife who has been left behind. In Beowulf, the narrator is likely a Christian monk who wrote down an orally transmitted poem and added in a Christian perspective.