At this point I pass out the boasts to students. I've put these on notecards but have them in a document for ease of use here: Beowulf's Boasts quotes. The boasts are from the Burton Raffel translation and the Kennedy translation of Beowulf, although I use the Seamus Heaney translation. This is one way I can expose students to the various translations of the epic.
When I have leftover cards, I ask some students to take more than one.
Before having students work w/ their boasts, I get out some props (hats from the dollar store) and put one on. Then I "boast," using one of the boasts I've distributed to students.
Next, I ask students to walk around the room and share their boasts w/ one another. As they do, I check to see if anyone needs help w/ pronunciations of words. I can do this informally so that the students aren't embarrassed when they present the boasts to the class.
After a few minutes of sharing with one another, I have students return to their desks.
I remind the class that when they present the boasts, they are no longer themselves; they are each Beowulf. Then we take turns boasting using the lines from Beowulf. Beowulf Boasting: Student PerformanceAfter each student boasts, we clap three times.
When all have finished, I ask: "What information did you get from the boasting? What did you learn about Beowulf?" Some of the student answers included:
"What his accomplishments are."
"Who his father is."
"What he can do."
When student struggle, I ask: "How do you communicate?" Students eagerly offer:
No one says "reputation." I ask, "How did Anglo-Saxons communicate?"
Someone responded: "Writing." That gave me the opportunity to tell the class that Beowulf is an oral story and that monks wrote it down. The Anglo-Saxons did not have writing as an option. This revelation sparked students to realize that word-of-mouth is the only way the Anglo-Saxons had to communicate.
We finish talking about the purpose of boasting for the Anglo-Saxons:
- Reveal one's reputation.
- Identify oneself as friend.
- Identify one's family lineage.
- Tell what one will do.
Now the class is ready for the task of composing their own boasts, which I explain in the next section.
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