The materials below are from Week 2 of my online Survey of British Literature class, which meets a “literature before 1800” requirement for our majors or is a “community and global engagement” requirement for students in the liberal arts core. We begin in week 1 by doing myriad setup activities, including a discussion scheduling poll for our weekly synchronous chats, greeting one another on Twitter, and  jumping into our texts. Below, I introduce students to the historical context of the English language, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and Beowulf in addition to providing details on our synchronous discussions and assignments for the term. 


Week 2: Beowulf & The Age of Old English


  • View the Prezi above.
  • Check our the guidelines for our Weekly Twitter Chats. Mark your calendar for these dates, or plan when you will do the make-up assignment for each week you must miss. 
  • In the menu in the left side of the page, click “Assignments” and take a look. This gives you an overview of the major activities we’re doing this quarter and how they’re weighted. It’s also handy because it’s an easy place to access assignments without scanning back through past weeks’ modules. 


  • Image google “annotated text” (or click here) and practice annotating your readings for this week. 
  • Read, In your NAEL: Introduction: “The Middle Ages to ca. 1485,” p. 3-28; 
  • Read, In your NAEL: Beowulf, p. 36-88.
  • View images of the Beowulf Manuscript, paying special attention to the Old English letters and words.  


  • Log on to Twitter #lit302e on Tuesday from 9-9:50 p.m. and participate in an informal discussion with your classmates. Bring the two brief quotations from our Beowulf reading that you chose, and be prepared to comment thoughtfully about why you each of them. See the Weekly Twitter Chats assignment for complete dates, guidelines, reassurance, and a make-up assignment for missed chats.
  • Remember: this week our main goal is to get the tech to work. Be patient with yourself and the learning curve — the live connection is very worth it once that is surmounted. 

 Click Here for Week 2 Quiz 

(due Thursday by 10 p.m.)



  • Choose a reading from the Norton text that you think you would like to do your major project this term on. (You will ultimately be able to decide between the text you choose this week and any other text on the syllabus, but this is your “free choice” week.) Or, if you know you want to write about something already on the syllabus, just pick something you’ve always wanted to read. Some suggestions: 
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Arthurian legend)
    • The Wakefield Second Shepherd’s Play (you should like older dialects but this is pretty short and completely hilarious — one of my favorites)
    • Everyman (a morality play; not as fun as SSP but also important, especially if you’re a drama-buff)
    • Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (the first book by a woman — Amelia Lanyer — ever to be published and marketed!)
    • Oroonoko (a wonderful and compelling early postcolonial novella, also by a woman — Aphra Behn)
    • or The Rape of the Lock (an important and widely-read mock-heroic narrative poem by Alexander Pope).
  • If you choose something not on the list above (which you are welcome to do), please run it by me by Thursday evening at the very latest.
  • We’ll spend a few moments during our chat this week talking about our selections. It’s ideal when more than one person chooses a text, as it makes discussion more fun next week. 
  • I’ll ask everyone to do a short assignment and answer a few questions next week to report to the class on what you read. For now, though, just read!