August 31, 2007

Finishing Beowulf

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:20 am by mrsmauck

So my seniors finished Beowulf today. We were both relieved, I think. Don’t get me wrong: somewhere between the groaning about the language, the confusion over kennings, and the scoffing at Beowulf’s supernatural strength, we had some good discussion about the nature of a hero, and of glory. They all also wrote their own boast, modeled after Beowulf’s, and some did an amazing job of making the ancient language and heroic tone their own. I want to give them a pep talk on Monday, telling them that the language was tough, but they beat it, and they should be proud of themselves. They’ve now read the original epic, and  no one can ever take that away from them. We’ve got a four-day weekend, thank goodness.

Tuesday, we’re going to look back at the text and learn the concepts of personification, foreshadowing, and irony, all found in the poem. Pretty sophistocated devices for an illiterate storyteller, right?

Has anyone seen the 2005 film Beowulf & Grendel? One of my students has The Thirteenth Warrior, which also took inspiration from the poem. I’m wondering whether either of these is worth watching in class.

Here’s what I’m thinking for culminating projects for the poem:

  1. Write and illustrate a children’s book or comic book version of the story.
  2. Compare Beowulf to another epic, which probably took its inspiration from the poem. To provide specific details from the epic you choose, you’ll need to watch the film or read the book again, so you can include specific quotes and examples from both texts.
  3. Write the villain’s side of the story: In either a narrative poem of at least 40 lines or a first-person story, tell the story from the P.O.V. of Grendel, Grendel’s mother, or the dragon.


  1. ec said,

    At my school we show Ghost Dog after reading Beowulf. It’s a modern take on the heroic code with Forest Whitaker as a sort of Samurai warrior who lives to protect and obey his master . There are some cheesy Samurai elements to the film, but it does make for a good pairing with Beowulf.

  2. Miss! said,

    I’ve had some really great results when I have my students make children’s books on a topic, even though I teach social studies. They seem to have fun with it, too!

    Glad to find your blog!

  3. I’m a little late to the party here, but watch the kids on that Grendel’s-point-of-view assignment. I doubt any of them will think of it at this level, but it would be awfully easy for some wiseacre to Google “Grendel” and track down a copy of the John Gardner novel. Might be worth keeping a copy handy just in case somebody’s writing sounds a little too polished to be believed.

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