Grinnell College is hosting a reading group for The Grinnell Beowulf translation. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college are invited to participate by reading this epic poem and joining in a series of discussions with Assistant Professor of English Tim Arner and his team of six student translators to reflect on this work of literature and on the process of translation.

The poem divides nicely into thirds, so three discussion sessions will be held:

  • Lines 1-1015: March 3, 7:30-9 p.m., Burling Library First Floor Lounge
  • Lines 1016-2245: March 10, 7:30-9 p.m., Burling Library First Floor Lounge
  • Lines 2246-3245: March 31, 7:30-9 p.m., Burling Library First Floor Lounge

The book is available online at Digital Grinnell. Limited paper copies will be available through Arner, the dean’s office, or at the Pioneer Bookshop in downtown Grinnell. If you don’t live in Grinnell, you can request a free copy of the book by e-mailing Beowulf[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Audio recordings of the reading assignments and discussions will also be made available on Digital Grinnell.

You may join the discussions in person, or join a live virtual session at the scheduled times. GoToMeeting will install its application and you will be prompted to launch it to join the session. Viewers do not need an account or a microphone, just speakers or headphones for listening to the discussion. You can submit questions for the panel in advance at Beowulf[at]grinnell[dot]edu and on Twitter, @TimothyDArner. The discussions will be recorded and posted on Digital Grinnell.

Additional information and updates can be found at the Facebook pages of the libraries, the English department, or alumni and friends.

The Grinnell Beowulf is a translation and teaching edition of the Old English poem, Arner says. Six students — Eva Dawson '14, Emily Johnson '14, Jeanette Miller '14, Logan Shearer '14, Aniela Wendt '14, and Kate Whitman '14 worked with Arner to translate Beowulf into readable and poetic modern English. The Grinnell Beowulf includes more than 165 annotations that accompany the text, as well as introductions to the poem and the translation process.

Beowulf is the most celebrated poem of the Anglo-Saxon era, Arner says. “It tells the story of a mighty warrior who defends his friends and homeland from lethal threats both human and monstrous,” he adds.

The work became a mainstay of high-school and college classes after J.R.R. Tolkien’s study and use of Beowulf as a source for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The reading group is a collaboration involving the dean’s office, the libraries, instructional technologists, the English Department, and the Development and Alumni Relations office.

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