A translucent white rectangle near the top of this cover declares the title, Exploring Beowulf. A thin red line just inside the edge of that rectangle further defines the shape. The Signum Press eagle hunting with talons out before the sun, rendered as simple black line and white figures, decorates the top left corner of this rectangle. The bottom of the cover has a red rectangle reaching to the left, bottom, and right edges with white words declaring “Audio Series by Prof. Michael D. C. Drout, PhD.” Above this red rectangle is a beautiful drawing of three weapons on a worn and well-oiled leather surface. We see, lying on the leather diagonally from lower left toward upper right, the broad tip of a spear, the blade of a sword, and the hilt of another sword. The metal of the spear tip and the sword is pattern-welded: the master weaponsmith folded and re-folded this metal over and over for strength and resilience. The distinctive folding lines of the metal suggests Beowulf’s own wægsweord (line 1489a), a wave-sword. The hilt could be a European Migration Period sword with a well-oiled simple crossguard and a pommel which bears some simple, striking grooves decorating the bell-curve shape. The tang is covered by a grip of something light-colored—it could be bleached leather or even bone—secured by bronze flanges decorated by tiny dots along their grip edges and tiny triangles with crosses inside along the edges toward the crossguard and pommel. The grip itself is absolutely beautiful, bearing a red-inked sun symbol (a circle with an inner eight-pointed star, from which extend four pairs of rays in four cardinal directions) and a dark blue-inked Valknut (a tricursal knot of three interlinked triangles). These are not show pieces. The light grip of the hilt shows wear and smudges of old dirt, although the weapons are clearly well cared for.

Join Professor Michael Drout to explore Beowulf!

Walk through through all 3,182 lines of the poem with Prof. Drout in monthly audio segments. You’ll go line-by-line, with each segment focusing on a small number of lines at a time. Prof. Drout will read the Old English, translate, explain why to translate it that way, discuss problems with the manuscript, and more.

Exploring Beowulf will also include a series of more focused episodes on topics in Beowulf-studies, such as: The Manuscript, Beowulf and Oral Tradition, Beowulf and Christianity, Beowulf and the Germanic North, and others. There will be one topical lecture each month.

Click here to download Prof. Drout’s ribbon diagram of Beowulf!

Prof. Michael D. C. Drout is Professor and Chair of English and Director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, where he teaches classes in Old and Middle English, Old Norse, Linguistics, Science Fiction and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. He has authored and co-authored several books, including ones on Anglo-Saxon, Beowulf, Old English, and the Liberal Arts. He edited J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beowulf and the Critics and the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia and co-edited Transitional States: Cultural Change, Tradition and Memory in Medieval England. One of the founders of the journal Tolkien Studies, for which he has co-edited 19 volumes, Drout has published over sixty journal articles and books chapters on topics including Beowulf, digital humanities, Old English psalter glosses, Tolkien, math in science fiction, the hellmouth in the poem “Guthlac,” and Anglo-Saxon medical remedies. He also serves as a consultant for The Lord of the Rings On-line MMORPG, Drout has appeared in two History Channel mini-series and recorded thirteen audio courses.