Teaching Old English in Tallahassee (2)

David F. Johnson

Florida State University


[Files accompanying this article: 1) Assignment, 2) Guide, 3) Rumble article]


ENL 5216 Studies in Old English Fall 2014

Capstone Assignment - Mini-Edition



The goal of this exercise is to produce a critical edition of a small portion of the Old English translation of Pope Gregory the Great's Dialogues. In doing so, you will consolidate your knowledge of the Old English language, learn something about codicology and paleography, and at the same time become familiar with one aspect of early medieval English spirituality.


What is expected and how to proceed

I expect each individual or team to produce as thorough an edition of the text they receive as possible. You should take Rumble's article as a jumping-off point, but you should also consult recent volumes of the Early English Text Society as the model for a modern edition. It would also be a good idea to do a literature search (using the tools listed in the Brief Guide to Old English Bibliography) to see what people are saying about editing these days.

Here are the components I expect in each final product:


I. Introduction

    a. Brief discussion (contextualization) of the OE translation of Gregory's Dialogues.
    b. Brief description of the manuscript (you can get this from Ker (see Rumble, p. 1)
    c. Brief description of the language (see relevant grammars and other editions for how to do this)
    d. Brief introduction of your passage: where and how does it fit into the whole of Dialogues? What significance does it have?
    e. Brief editorial policy for the edition: what is your policy on expanding abbreviations (what are they)? How will you print certain characters no longer used (the 'w' or 'wynn,' for example, OE for 'w', looks like a 'p' and thus can cause great confusion)? How will you handle emendations of scribal/authorial error/editorial speculation? How will you treat punctuation (i.e. will you retain manuscript punctuation, or apply modern, or somewhere in between)? This is the place to put any other info of this kind, i.e. info that will aid the user in reading and understanding the text.


II. Edition

The text: edited to conform to a consistent format (see EETS volumes and other discussions of editing Old English texts). You should be sure this is in line with your policies, laid out in Intro, section e. It needs to be clearly laid out and legible. You will want to use a font like JuniusModern or Junicode to get the OE characters right.


III. Notes

This is the place to put all kinds of comments on the language of individual lines or words, contents, analogues, significance, etc. etc. of the text you are editing. You may opt to incorporate an "apparatus" at the bottom of the page to accommodate original readings you may have edited, or you can put all of this in end-notes. You should save working on the critical commentary on the contents (the cultural and literary studies part) until after you have completed the editing proper (i.e. edition and glossary). Imagine an intelligent audience, perhaps a friend who knows nothing about Old English literature or Gregory the Great, to guide you in deciding what needs to be illuminated here.


IV. Glossary

This must be thorough, account for every word and form, and parse every one of them, just like Hasenfratz and Jambek's! You should start working on this as soon as you have your transcription finished.


V. Bibliography

This should list every work used in the preparation of your edition.

Good luck, and remember: þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg!


Rumble, A R. "Using Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts." In Anglo-Saxon Palaeography: Basic Readings, ed. Mary P. Richards, 3-24.Garland Press, 1994.