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Beowulf Symposium gives poem epic treatment


February 16, 2009

Beowulf is back.

But then he’s never gone away.

Some best-selling authors today — particularly poets – would be thrilled with the longevity of this epic poem, which was written sometime around the 10th or 11th century, by a writer -- or writers -- unknown.

Scholars and lovers of Beowulf, hero of the Geats, are invited to gather Feb. 27-28 for the Third Annual Beowulf Symposium sponsored by the Department of English in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the English Club and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

The symposium includes student performances, a lecture, and an epic reading of the epic.

On Friday, Feb. 27, the symposium begins with “Beowulf in Bits: Student Performances,” featuring Cora Fox’s English 221 class, Robert Bjork’s English 531 class, and students from Fountain Hills Middle School, Veritas Preparatory Academy and James Sandoval Preparatory High School, from noon to 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union’s Pima Auditorium.

Following the performances, Bjork will give a lecture from 3 to 4 p..m., also in the Pima Auditorium, titled “The Many Guises of Beowulf (and Grendel, too).”

The symposium concludes with “An Epic Event: A Communal Reading of ‘Beowulf’ in Old and Modern English,” from 4 to 9 p.m. Feb. 28 at Bob’s Mead Hall (the home of Robert Bjork).

In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, battles three antagonists: Grendel, who has been attacking the mead hall in Denmark called Heorot and its inhabitants; Grendel's mother; and, later in life after returning to Geatland (modern southern Sweden) and becoming a king, he fights an unnamed dragon. Beowulf is fatally wounded in the final battle, and after his death he is buried in a barrow in Geatland by his retainer

Those wishing to attend the Epic Event should R.S.V.P. to Heather.Maring@asu.edu.