Embodying Beowulf—A Faculty Reading of an Epic Poem
English faculty members read the epic poem, Beowulf, complete with props and maybe a horned helmet or two during the 2023 Spring Arts & Culture Festival.
Beowulf, written as a remembrance of the many epic deeds of a dead king, offers insight into a world long past. After the performance, there was a short discussion of the importance of literature and how it embodies the time and place in which each piece is written and why it is important for texts such as Beowulf to continue to be shared.
Beowulf was embodied by professors of the English department. Between them, they teach composition, creative writing, and literature classes, and all love to share their joy in the written word.
This epic poem was first recorded in Old English, but probably originated in the oral tradition. It has been translated countless times in poetry, prose, comics, theatre, song, and film. Each interpretation adds its own patina on the sixth century adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. Dealing with eternal themes, according to Seamus Heaney's translation, "It is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath." Beowulf has inspired towering and well-known fan fiction from the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, and DC Comics.