This course traces the social, political and cultural history of early England and its Celtic neighbors across a seven-hundred year period, from the departure of the Roman legions in the late fourth century through to England's eventual conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. Subjects we will look at include: the gradual emergence of the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the post-Roman 'Dark Ages' of 400-600 AD; the emergence of several dominant kingdoms in the course of the seventh and eighth centuries; Anglo-Saxon hagiography; the historical writings of Bede; the reign of Alfred 'the Great'; the gradual emergence of a unified English state over the course of the later ninth and tenth centuries and its eventual conquest; varieties of Anglo-Saxon culture; manuscript production; social organization; law and dispute settlement; issues of trade and England's contacts with the wider world. Students will be expected to engage with archaeological and literary sources, and to undertake 150-190 pages of reading per week, a mix of primary texts (in English translation) and secondary studies. This course fulfills the second writing requirement, demanding that students write two medium-length papers (2000 words), a mid-term and a final exam.
Required texts for this course include:
Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Church and People, trans. R. Collins & J. McClure (Oxford University Press, 2000).
The Age of Bede, trans., J.F. Webb and D.H. Farmer (Penguin, 1998).
K. Crossley-Holland, The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology (Oxford University Press, 1999).
S. D. Keynes & M. Lapidge, Asser's Life of Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources (Penguin, 1984).
James Campbell, ed., The Anglo-Saxons (1982).