M. A. in Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies Introduction



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Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies

April 2015

University of Aberdeen

M.A. in Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies

Introduction

Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies is a new and innovative interdisciplinary programme. It is available as a single-honours M.A. or as part of a joint-M.A. degree with another subject, e.g. History, Archaeology, English, Linguistics, Scottish Gaelic or another modern language. (This programme, by teaching the languages, literatures and cultures of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon worlds, replaces the previous Celtic Studies and Celtic Civilisation programmes.)

Aberdeen is one of the very few universities in Europe where it is possible for a student to study the Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in comparison. Our modules cover literature, culture, history and languages. The emphasis is on the Dark Ages and Middle Ages, but with modules on ancient and modern periods as well. No prior knowledge is expected. Students can choose their own pathway based on a wide range of available modules, depending on their particular areas of interest. Aberdeen has been a centre for Celtic studies for more than a century, and our library resources are outstanding. The surrounding countryside is rich in archaeological and historic remains of Scotland’s Celtic and Nordic past.

The new programme is very flexible in regard to honours options (levels 3 and 4). Each academic year, a minimum of two special subject courses in literature, history or practical skills will be taught, depending on staff availability and student interest. This is in addition to the honours language teaching.

**All Level 3 and 4 courses are available for Disciplinary Breadth**

For full details of the programme see our website:



http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sll/disciplines/celtic-anglo-saxon/index.php

For details of individual courses see the Course Catalogue:



http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/courses/display.php?Subject=CE

NB **All Level 3 and 4 courses are available for Disciplinary Breadth**

For more about the programme see our website:

http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sll/disciplines/celtic-anglo-saxon/index.php

For details of individual courses running this year, see the Course Catalogue:



http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/courses/display.php?Subject=CE

Structure

Level 1

Programme requirement (single and joint honours) of 30 credit points from courses considered to be part of the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon curriculum (including at least one of the core courses), plus 90 credit points from other available courses.

Core course, first half-session:

Barbarians, Romans, Gods and Warriors’ (15 credits)

This course gives you an exciting introduction to the Celtic and Germanic worlds. In lectures and small-group tutorials, we will explore the peoples who inhabited western and central Europe in Antiquity. We will discuss their cultures and their interactions with Greece and Rome. The course also covers the fates of these cultures in the post-Roman world. Change over time will provide a major driver of the course: for instance, empire and its effect; the history and impact of the "barbarian"; the successive impacts of Roman religion and of Christianity, and how they were represented in mediaeval "heroic" literature.

This course gives you an exciting introduction to the Celtic and Germanic worlds. In lectures and small-group tutorials, we will explore the peoples who inhabited western and central Europe in Antiquity. We will discuss their cultures and their interactions with Greece and Rome. The course also covers the fates of these cultures in the post-Roman world. Change over time will provide a major driver of the course: for instance, empire and its effect; the history and impact of the ‘barbarian’; the successive impacts of Roman religion and of Christianity, and how they were represented in mediaeval ‘heroic’ literature.

Two one-hour lectures and one one-hour tutorial per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and tutorial participation (10%)

Core course, second half-session:

Arthur and Finn, Beowulf and Alfred the Great: History, Law and Literature in the Early Mediaeval North’ (15 credits)

This course explores the changing cultures of the early mediaeval North, especially the cultural history and literatures of Britain and Ireland between the Anglo-Saxon settlement of south Britain and the Norman invasions half a millennium later. These islands were a cultural and ethnic melting-pot between Celtic and Germanic peoples, as seen through a rich body of texts: heroic poems, historical narratives, law-texts, family trees, letters and outlaw-legends. In lectures and small-group tutorials, we explore the diverse forms of social organisation which emerged, and we examine how these peoples interacted with each other: from sex to violence and everything in between.

Two one-hour lectures and one one-hour tutorial per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and tutorial participation (10%)

Other level 1 courses within the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies curriculum:



Modern Irish for Beginners 1 (15 credits)

This course aims to give students an introduction to the modern Irish language. Students will be encouraged to practise basic conversation in Irish. The course is open to those with little or no knowledge of the language.

Four classes per week

Assessment: One two-hour examination (60%), three translation exercises (10% each), and tutorial assessment mark (10%)

Modern Irish for Beginners 1’ (15 credits, first half-session)

This course aims to give students an introduction to the modern Irish language. Students will be encouraged to practise basic conversation in Irish. The course is open to those with little or no knowledge of the language.

Four classes per week

Assessment: one two-hour examination (60%), three translation exercises (10% each), and tutorial assessment mark (10%)

Modern Irish for Beginners 2’ (15 credits, second half-session)

This course gives students a continuation of their study of the modern Irish language. Students will be encouraged to practise conversation in Irish on more challenging topics.

Four classes per week

Assessment: one two-hour examination (60%), three translation exercises (10% each), and tutorial assessment mark (10%)

Latin 1 and 2’ (2 courses, one in each half-session, 15 credits each)

Latin was the upper-class language of Roman Britain, the major language of the early churches in mediaeval Britain and Ireland, and the language in which some of the finest literary works produced in mediaeval Britain and Ireland were written. There are four Latin courses at levels 1 and 2. These can be taken as a complete set under the ‘Sustained Study’ rubric, or as individual courses depending on prior ability. The first-semester level 1 Latin course is an introductory, intensive course for those with little or no previous exposure to Latin. Students completing this course should have a Latin vocabulary of about 400 words and a basic understanding of Latin grammar and syntax. Students successfully completing this course will be adequately prepared to attend LT1507. Students will very likely discover that their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar/syntax is improved by their study of Latin. The etymological roots of many English words can be traced to the Latin language.

is an introductory, intensive course for those with little or no previous exposure to Latin. Students completing this course should have a Latin vocabulary of about 400 words and a basic understanding of Latin grammar and syntax. Students successfully completing this course will be adequately prepared to attend the second-semester course if they wish. Students will very likely discover that their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar/syntax is improved by their study of Latin. The etymological roots of many English words can be traced to the Latin language.

The second-semester courseLT1507 picks up where LT1009 (Latin 1) finished in first term. By the end of this course students should have a more or less comprehensive understanding of Latin syntax and grammar, a Latin vocabulary of 700-800 words, and should be capable of translating simple Latin texts into idiomatic English.

will provide students with a more or less comprehensive understanding of Latin syntax and grammar, a Latin vocabulary of 700-800 words, and the ability to translate simple Latin texts into idiomatic English. Those who wish can go on to take one or both Latin courses at level 2 (see below).

Vikings!’ (15 credits, 2nd half-session)

This course (run by the History Department but taught in conjunction with Celtic & Anglo-Saxon staff) introduces students to a period of warfare and pillage, political turmoil and social transformation, but also economic expansion and cultural innovation. In 795 viking raiders mercilessly attacked the Christian monastic community on Iona in the Hebrides. From then on, their activities extendedfrom Denmark, Norway and Sweden out to continental Europe, North America, Russia and the Mediterranean Basin. Over time they became transformed from heathen raiders into Christianized settlers. In Iceland they created a republic which has remained Scandinavian in culture; elsewhere, for instance in Britain, Ireland and Russia, they adopted and modified the host culture.

picks up where LT1009 (Latin 1) finished in first term. By the end of this course students should have a more or less comprehensive understanding of Latin syntax and grammar, a Latin vocabulary of 700-800 words, and should be capable of translating simple Latin texts into idiomatic English.



Level 2

Programme requirement (single and joint honours) of 30 credit points from courses considered to be part of the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon curriculum, plus 90 credit points from other available courses.

Core courses, first half-session:

Arthur in Mediaeval Celtic and Scandinavian Literature’ (15 credits)

The course provides a survey of literature on Arthur in the Middle Ages, focusing on early Welsh and Gaelic sources, related Scandinavian literature and French, Welsh and English romances. It includes discussion of broader themes and questions posed by the literature, e.g. whether Arthur could have been a real person, how the Arthurian legend evolved over time and in different areas of Europe, and why the character has been elevated to iconic status.

One one-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and tutorial participation (10%)

OR (in alternate years)

Vikings in Celtic and Germanic Scotland’ (15 credits)

The Viking Age (A.D. 800-1100) was an era of vigorous economic and political change in western Europe. Scandinavian assaults and conquests changed many of the social norms of early mediaeval Europe, as did the development of urban culture and international trade associated with vikings’ activities. Vernacular literatures developed with outstanding results in the Insular zone, attested by fascinating texts in English, Gaelic, Scandinavian, and Welsh. Scotland provides in microcosm an intense realisation of all these trends; the subject-matter of this course is, therefore, particularly useful and locally appropriate.

One one-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and tutorial participation (10%)

Core courses, second half-session:

The Celts, their Neighbours, and the Classical World’ (15 credits)

Greek and Roman interactions with, and perceptions of, Celtic and Germanic peoples will form the central theme of this course. It includes in-depth discussion of migrations, material cultures and pre-Christian belief-systems. We will also analyse individual Classical authors’ motives and judgments in relation to Celts and Germani, and how these perceptions evolved against the background of the emerging Roman Empire. In addition the course involves discussion of broader themes and questions posed by the sources, e.g. the portrayals of Celtic and Germanic peoples in Greek and Roman art, and the possible uses by Celtic and Anglo-Saxon literatures of Classical texts.

One one-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and tutorial participation (10%)



OR (in alternate years)

Love, Loss and Revival: Gaelic Ireland, 1700 to the Present’ (15 credits)

Detailed discussion of topics including the history of Gaelic Ireland from the eighteenth century onwards; and the aims and achievements of all genres of literature in modern Irish, eg. vision-poems and prose diaries. The course will also cover the major twentieth-century poets and their motivations, e.g. self-discovery, urban/rural tension and commentary on political and social aspects of their own day.

One one-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and tutorial participation (10%)

Other level 2 courses within the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies curriculum:

Latin Language and Literature 1 and 2’ (2 courses, 15 credits each)

This course builds on the previous year's teaching in Latin and introduces the students to medium-grade difficulty Latin texts, such as the Gospels and medieval saints lives. The course aims to provide a forum for the study of both Latin language and literature. The aim is to consolidate and extend our students grasp of grammar syntax and vocabulary of classical and medieval Latin, with all the chief constructions having been covered by the end of the course.

These two courses, running across the year, build on level 1 Latin courses (and can be taken separately by those who already have the basic skills). It introduces students to medium-grade difficulty Latin texts, such as the Gospels and mediaeval saints’ Lives. The aim is to consolidate and extend students’ grasp of the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of classical and mediaeval Latin, covering all the chief constructions by the end of the course.

Gaelic Folklore’ (15 credits)

This course is an introduction to the wonderful world of Gaelic folklore.  The course will look at the traditional belief systems of the Scottish Gaels with regard to the second sight, fairies and the supernatural.  Students will learn about folk healing and rituals about birth, death and marriage.  Additionally students will look at some examples of traditional Gaelic stories, handed down for hundreds of years before finally being written.  Students will also learn a little about the different Gaelic song types.  In looking at the songs and stories, students will also learn about the people who collected these folk items.

This course is an introduction to the wonderful world of Gaelic folklore. It explores the traditional belief systems of the Scottish Gaels with regard to the second sight, fairies and the supernatural. Students will learn about folk healing and rituals about birth, death and marriage. Additionally students will look at some examples of traditional Gaelic stories, handed down for hundreds of years before finally being written. Students will also learn a little about the different Gaelic song-types. In looking at the songs and stories, students will also learn about the people who collected these folk items.



Levels 3 & 4 (taught together)

Programme requirement (single honours): 240 credits in all (courses 30 credits each), including level 3 and 4 courses worth a total of 210 credit points from courses available as part of the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon curriculum, plus 30 credit points in a different subject for Discipline Breadth. At least 90 credit points must be at level 4.

Programme requirement (joint honours): 120 credits in all (courses 30 credits each) from level 3 and 4 courses available as part of the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon curriculum.

All candidates at Level 3 and Level 4 must take at least one Language course or one Special Subject course in Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies per half-session.

Language courses (no previous knowledge of Celtic or Germanic languages is required)

Introduction to Old Gaelic (2 semesters, 60 credits)

This course provides a basic introduction to Old Gaelic, the direct ancestor of modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Spoken in Ireland and Scotland in the early Middle Ages, Old Gaelic is the earliest Celtic language which we can reconstruct with some certainty.

OR (in alternate years)

Introduction to Brittonic Language (2 semesters, 60 credits) (usually mediaeval Welsh)

Brittonic languages were spoken throughout mainland Britain and in Brittany prior to the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons, vikings and Normans, giving rise to modern Welsh, Cornish and Breton. This course provides a basic introduction to the mediaeval Welsh language, forms of which were spoken in Wales, northern England and southern Scotland during the early Middle Ages.

Single-semester language courses:

Old Norse Language and Society’ (30 credits) (usually runs every year, taught by Scandinavian Studies / History staff at level 3 only)

This course explores some of the most important and exciting sources for the study of early Scandinavia, including mythological, historical and literary texts. Students will have the opportunity to study some of this material in the original Old Norse, with the aid of structured language classes and printed and online resources, while other texts for discussion will be read in English translation.

This course explores some of the most important and exciting sources for the study of early Scandinavia, including mythological, historical and literary texts. Students will have the opportunity to study some of this material in the original Old Norse, with the aid of structured language classes and printed and online resources, while other texts for discussion will be read in English translation. Old Norse was spoken in many areas of Britain and Ireland (including much of northern and western Scotland) during the early Middle Ages, and it had a considerable influence on the development of modern English.

Old English Language and Literature (30 credits) (runs in alternate years, taught at both levels 3 and 4).

This course is under development and is planned to begin in 2016. It will provide a basic introduction to the language of the Anglo-Saxons. Old English became the main language of England and southern Scotland during the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, and boasts a rich literary corpus including the famous heroic poem Beowulf. This course will introduce this literature in translation alongside structured language classes in which basic texts will be read in the original language.

First and second half-session: Special Subject courses

At least one of these to be taught each half-session, and two (from different areas) to be taught in each academic year; teaching will be planned at least one year ahead, and will depend on student interest and staff availability.

Students may take either an interdisciplinary or a specialist approach to these courses, i.e. no restrictions (except that obviously you cannot take the same course twice).

Special Subject I – Comparative Literature

Tales of Vengeance and Enchantment: The Heroic Age in Irish and Icelandic Saga Literature’ (30 credits)

Mediaeval Irish and Icelandic sagas represent the largest and most varied, and certainly the most entertaining, body of vernacular prose narrative in existence in early mediaeval Europe. They contain some of the North’s most distinctive and impressive contributions to world literature. Drawing on common oral and literary traditions from the North Atlantic cultural zone, these tales dramatize the legendary past by populating it with larger-than-life heroes whose deeds and misdeeds were felt to define the meaning of that past for mediaeval audiences. These two bodies of northern literature are usually studied in isolation, but this course will place them side by side. It will explore narratives ranging from heroic tales of cattle-raids and bloodfeuds to stories about the living dead and quests to the otherworlds of the Western and Arctic oceans. The tales will be analysed (in translation) from literary and historical perspectives.

One one-hour lecture and one two-hour seminar per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and seminar participation (10%)



OR

Dangerous Liaisons: Love, Sex and Romance in the Celtic West and the Old North’ (30 credits)

The literature of the Celtic and Germanic Middle Ages is famous for its tragic tales of ill-starred romance and forbidden love, as well as for the frankness and freshness with which its poetry explores the subject of sexual attraction. This course will explore how the interwoven themes of love, sex and romance were dramatized in Celtic, Norse and Anglo-Saxon stories and poetry. Topics covered will include some or all of the following: the love-triangle in Celtic and Norse narrative, maiden-kings and cross-dressing in Norse romance, amorous trolls and femmes fatales, sexual humour and insults, the bride as peace-weaver in heroic society, elopements and abductions, otherworldly lovers, and lyrics of requited and unrequited love.

One one-hour lecture and one two-hour seminar per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and seminar participation (10%)

Special Subject II – Practical Skills

Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Manuscript-studies’ (30 credits)

This course provides an in-depth introduction to Insular script and Insular book-production. A distinctive sub-Roman polymorphous script-form and mode of book-production was created in Celtic Britain and Ireland in the fifth or sixth century; this has long since been named ‘Insular’. These forms gained remarkable European diffusion over succeeding centuries, being used at varying times as far afield as Italy and Scandinavia (and perhaps Ukraine!), particularly through the activities of English and Gaelic clergy. After about 1200, Insular script and book-production became purely Gaelic modes, albeit used for both vernacular and Latin writing. Printing in Irish extended over some four centuries from the later sixteenth century, in forms adapted from Insular script; this Gaelic type was used in Irish governmental publications from independence in 1921/2 until 1948, and ‘Irish’ (that is, Insular) script was taught in schools during the same period. In sum, this script-form had a life of about 1500 years and, at the height of its popularity, was a much more general European phenomenon.

One one-hour lecture, one one-hour seminar, and two one-hour practical classes per week

Assessment: one three-hour written examination (100%); formative practical class-exercises



OR

Comparative Germanic Philology’ (30 credits)

The introduction of the new Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies degree means that a new cohort of students informed in Old English will be likely to want to take a course which both gives their study of that language greater depth and introduces them to means by which they can develop a sense of the comparative diversity and similarity of its sister languages. It is likely that students of both Scandinavian Studies and also Language and Linguistics students may be interested in this course.

One two-hour language seminar and one one-hour informal lecture per week

Assessment: Level 3 -- Two 2,000-2,500 word essays (35% each); one linguistic analysis (1,500-2000 words for both) of texts from two languages from a choice of four (20%); seminar performance (10%)

Level 4 -- Two 2,500-3,000 word essays (35% each); one linguistic analysis (750 words for each) of texts from three languages from a choice of four (20%); seminar performance (10%)

Special Subject III -- Comparative Historical Study

Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Kingship and the Exercise of Authority in the Earlier Middle Ages’ (30 credits)

At the end of Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages, Celtic and Germanic kingship had a perhaps superficial structural similarity. Germanic kingship had shallow roots, however. Celtic kingship, on the other hand, enjoyed a very long history and solidly established foundations. The post-colonial situation in Britain (and more generally in western Europe at large) brought great change. Christianity offered new (Jewish and Roman) methods of rulership. For the Gaelic world, on the other hand, in conjunction with a largely peaceful receipt of Christianity, continuity is the watchword. Both practice and theory of kingship in a changing world are abundantly attested in a rich variety of sources, documentary, linguistic, literary, and material: full advantage will be taken of these resources, with close attention given to the intercultural and interdisciplinary study of primary sources.

One one-hour lecture, one one-hour sources class, and one one-hour seminar per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and seminar participation (10%)

OR

Law and Literature among the Celts and Anglo-Saxons in the Early and Central Middle Ages’ (30 credits)

A rich legal literature, at once ecclesiastical and secular, descriptive and prescriptive, has survived from both England and the Celtic-speaking countries from the late sixth/early seventh century to the twelfth. Almost by definition, this literature deals with almost every aspect of earlier mediaeval society. It is complemented by narrative and poetic literature which dwells, both by precept and by providing exemplars, on the ideal and the undesirable aspects of human nature and society. This course is devoted both to legal thought and to law operative in society, in both Celtic-speaking and English-speaking countries.

One one-hour lecture, one one-hour sources class, and one one-hour seminar per week

Assessment: one two-hour written examination (60%), an essay of approx. 2,000 words, including references but excluding bibliography (30%), and seminar participation (10%)

Also available within the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon curriculum at levels 3 and 4:



Scottish Gaelic language/literature courses (based in Gaelic Studies)

Scottish Gaelic language/literature courses (based in Gaelic Studies: see their webpages for full details)

Independent Study in Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies (30 credits, level 3 or 4)

This course will provide the opportunity for students to pursue in-depth exploration of a specific topic in Celtic and/or Anglo-Saxon Studies. It gives students an opportunity for intensive engagement in a specific area within the research field of an individual staff member, and can be arranged as preparatory work towards a dissertation.

This course will provide the opportunity for students to pursue in-depth exploration of a specific topic in Celtic and/or Anglo-Saxon Studies. It gives students an opportunity for intensive engagement in a specific area within the research field of an individual staff member, and can be arranged as preparatory work towards a dissertation.

Also available within the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon curriculum at level 4:

The Work of Angels’ (second semester, 30 credits, alternate years)

This course will examine the exquisite art of northern British Isles from seventh to ninth centuries.  It will show how the introduction of Christianity both from Ireland and Rome, produced a creative cultural melting pot in which artistic designs from Ireland, Pictland and Northumbria fused into the Insular Style. Technology, literary sources, historical and liturgical evidence are all required to interpret this dramatic era of transition form paganism to Christianity. Highlights are the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne Gospels, Tara Brooch, the Pictish stones. Some fieldtrips.

This course (run from within the History of Art department) will examine the exquisite art of northern British Isles from seventh to ninth centuries. It will show how the introduction of Christianity, both from Ireland and Rome, produced a creative cultural melting pot in which artistic designs from Ireland, Pictland and Northumbria fused into the Insular Style. Technology, literary sources, historical and liturgical evidence are all required to interpret this dramatic era of transition from paganism to Christianity. Highlights are the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne Gospels, Tara Brooch, and Pictish stones.

2 two-hour seminars per week; some fieldtrips

1 two-hour written examination (30%); 1 one-hour visual-based test (20%); Class participation including presentation (10%); two 2,500 word essays which include critical review of sources, total (40%)

Assessment: 1 two-hour written examination (30%); 1 one-hour visual-based test (20%); Class participation including presentation (10%); two 2500-word essays which include critical review of sources (total 40%).



Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Studies Dissertation (30 credits)

Compulsory for single-honours students in fourth year; joint-honours students write a dissertation in one or other of their subjects; your choice!)

For further information please contact the Undergraduate Programme Coordinator

Professor Ralph O’Connor (r.oconnor@abdn.ac.uk).



April 2015

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