An ethnic dating of beowulf

Scholars and teachers of Beowulf tend either to ignore or downplay this aspect of Beowulf's critical reception, or they may work actively to challenge such readings through more sophisticated analysis of the poem's origins and history.Unlike many other medieval works, however, Beowulf has a life beyond the academic world and a place in popular culture, where the nuances of scholarly caution and restraint have little effect.Richard Scott Nokes, Troy University Beowulf, a poem written in a language identified with the Anglo-Saxons but without mention of England or a single English character, has always been entangled with the complexities of issues of nationalism.The tribes and peoples mentioned in the story are little more than names to us, but the original audience may well have had strong feelings about them.


[3] Though they used medieval studies for their own purposes, the Nazis were part of a long tradition of underwriting national identity through medieval literature, a tradition that includes less malevolent incarnations such as the work of the Brothers Grimm or, in the case of Beowulf, the work of Frederick Klaeber.

Most are basically monster-hunting stories; they take little interest in questions of national identity.

But the producers of one film, Beowulf: Prince of the Geats, [6] have inadvertently discovered just how seriously some fans of Beowulf do take such questions.

In this film, Beowulf, although raised among the Geats, is the son of an African explorer, a Pushkin-esque figure who looks like an outsider but who is ultimately a product of the culture that raised him.

[1] Modern scholarship on the poem is also fraught with issues of nationalism, but in this case we can see the details and distinctions more clearly.The dual catastrophes of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII and the Ashburnam House fire of 1731 left Beowulf without any serious competition for the title of "Old English Epic," and as such, the poem was a prize for the taking.


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