The dating of Beowulf is one of the most controversial and pressing issues in Anglo-Saxon studies. It has animated and continues to animate a great deal of scholarship on Beowulf, often with ramifications for the study of Anglo-Saxon literature and culture as a whole. Scholars had once agreed with near unanimity that Beowulf was one of the earliest extant Old English poems, yet the University of Toronto’s 1980 conference on the dating of Beowulf – presenting arguments for ninth, tenth, and early eleventh century composition – threw open the question again. Despite the uncertainty ushered in by the conference and the subsequent collection of essays, many scholars have made important contributions to our efforts to date Beowulf over the last thirty years, and strong arguments have emerged on paleographical, linguistic, metrical, cultural, and historical grounds, among others.
Harvard University’s English Department, with support from the Morton Bloomfield Trust and the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, will be hosting a conference entitled “The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment” on September 23 – 24, 2011. We are pleased to announce that R.D. Fulk, Class of 1964 Chancellor’s Professor of English at Indiana University, will be giving the conference’s plenary address.
We invite scholars to supplement, evaluate, or interrogate the scholarship on the dating of Beowulf that has emerged over the last three decades. We welcome both highly specific investigations as well as holistic attempts to integrate the findings of various approaches.
Presentations should be no longer than twenty minutes. There will be a short discussion period after each paper. Potential presenters should send an abstract of approximately 250 words by e-mail to HarvardBeowulf@gmail.com. Abstracts are due by March 31, 2011.