Introduction to Germanic Philology I

Introduction to Germanic Philology I

This class offers a survey of the older Germanic languages (especially Gothic, Old Norse, and Old English), and the literatures written in those languages.

DURATION: 12 weeks
ID: LNGC 5390

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.


Nelson Goering
Nelson Goering
Lecturer; Preceptor
Paul Peterson
Director of the Graduate School of Language and Literature; Lecturer; Preceptor

This class offers a survey of the older Germanic languages including Gothic, Old Norse, and Old English, as well as the content and contexts of the surviving texts written in those languages. Defining “philology” broadly as the study of culture through languages and texts, we will take a range of approaches to the material, including literary, linguistic, and historical perspectives. Additionally, we will consider the interrelationships of the different Germanic languages, from the perspectives of both comparative philology and historical contacts.

Students are not expected to have prior familiarity with any language other than modern English. Coursework involves readings, philological exercises, and the study of short, glossed excerpts from medieval texts. The overall aim is to provide a basic familiarity with the methods and subject matter of Germanic philology, and to make the medieval languages and texts that provide the field’s raw data appear less unfamiliar.

Weekly Schedule

There will be two 1-hour lectures and two 1-hour weekly discussion sessions as assigned.

Week 1

  • Survey of the Germanic Languages
  • A History of Comparative Philology

Week 2

  • Language and Language Change
  • Beyond Language: What is “Germanic”?

Week 3

  • The Goths: History and Legend
  • The Linguistic Character of Gothic I: Phonology and Orthography

Week 4

  • The Linguistic Character of Gothic II: Morphology and Translation
  • Gothic, Early Runic, and Proto-Germanic

Week 5

  • The History and Character of Old Norse
  • Norse East and West

Week 6

  • Norse Poetry: Eddaic and Scaldic
  • Norse Prose in Norway and Iceland

Week 7

  • Echoes of Ragnarok: Norse Mythology
  • The Linguistic Character of Old English

Week 8

  • Old English in Britain
  • Old English Poetry and Prose

Week 9

  • Beowulf and Philology
  • Early Middle English

Week 10

  • Old Saxon
  • Old Frisian

Week 11

  • Early Dutch
  • Old and Middle High German

Week 12

  • North, South, East, and West: Grouping the Germanic Languages
  • “Old” and “Middle”: Periodizing the Germanic Languages

Required Texts

Robinson, Orrin W. Old English and Its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages, 1st Edition, 1992.

Recommended Text: Green, D.H. Language and History in the Early Germanic World, Revised Ed., 2000.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Germanic Philology I Offerings
Fall 2019Dr. Nelson Goering & Dr. Paul Peterson
Fall 2017Dr. Nelson Goering & Dr. Paul Peterson