English from Old to New
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-ETCENB104
Credits (ECTS)5
CategoryB1 (First year bachelor)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; English Language and Culture;
drs. M.J. Tangelder
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
drs. M.J. Tangelder
Other course modules lecturer
drs. M.J. Tangelder
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
PER 3-PER 4  (29/01/2024 to 01/09/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksAccessible to exchange students
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
At the end of the course, the student
• understands the development from Old to Modern English from a historical perspective.
• is able to analyse and apply the principles of language change in the various stages of English.
• is familiar with a range of genres, topics and ways of creating meaning prevalent in early medieval English writing, and able to analyse these sources in the light of the cultural and social identity of the Anglo-Saxons.
• masters Old English on a basic level.
This course will chart the changes the English language has undergone from Old English to Early Modern English. The first part of the course introduces the phenomenon of language change and offers participants the tools needed to understand the major changes that affected the English language and that distinguish English from its sister languages Dutch and German. This part consolidates the participants' skills in phonetics and grammar. Participants will now understand the principles of language change, e.g., the phonemic change from plosive to fricative, or the emergence of "do-support" in questions. Participants will become aware of the linguistic effects of consecutive invasions of England (the Vikings and the Normans) and of technological and cultural changes (e.g., the printing press, the Renaissance): English is replete with Old Norse, Old French and Latin loan words and even adopted some grammatical features from other languages. The second part of the course introduces the language, culture, history and literature of Anglo-Saxon England through the writings of the Anglo-Saxons. These texts range from the start of the written record in Britain to the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, composed in various mediums (prose, verse) and modes (historiography, hagiography, sermon, epic). The sources have in common that they were written in early medieval England by a group of Germanic tribes that saw itself as the rightful possessor of part of the British Isles. These pagan Anglo-Saxon conquerors, who invaded Britain in 449 as legend has it, and who persecuted the Christian Celtic population living in Britain at the time, later were persecuted themselves by recurring waves of pagan Viking invasions. In 1066, Duke William of Normandy, the domain of former Vikings who had adopted a Romance language, invaded and captured England. Themes in the literature of the Anglo-Saxons that will be focused on are, therefore, social identity, conquest, loss, exile and invasion, and the religious experience. Participants study texts in translation and gain a basic command of the Old English language through translation exercises.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Required materials
Title:A History of English: A Sociolinguistic Approach (paperback)
Author:Fennel, B.
Publisher:Oxford: Blackwell 2001
(second or third edition of the book)
Title:Old and Middle English c. 890-c. 1450: An Anthology
Author:Treharne, E., ed. and trans
Publisher:Oxford: Blackwell, 2010

Instructional modes


Test weight50
Test typeWritten exam
OpportunitiesBlock PER 3, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

(Home) exam
Test weight50
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

Test weight0
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade