The Beowulf Oral Tradition Comparison Unit is a fantastic resource for helping students understand and appreciate oral tradition, in addition to word choice and word connotation. This 17 page unit is a comprised of one anticipation reading guide, 3 Close reading activities, a creative writing Boast exercise and a final test assessment. The close reading assignments require that students compare Francis B. Gummere's Harvard Classics translation with Seamus Heaney's more modern version. While reading, students scan each section for the use of kennings, consonance, assonance, alliteration and diction. After scanning and highlighting the text, students are required to write mini essays for each section discussing how the use of literary devices, word choice and word connotations affect their understanding of the text. With a key provided, the teacher can walk students through the process as a class for up to three exercises before giving a final assessment which is also provided within this close reading unit. Please see below for sample instructions.
Detail the differences between the Francis B. Gummere and Seamus Heaney translations. While reading you are required to circle at least 6 examples of alliteration, underline consonance, and highlight at least 2 examples of kennings (10 points). While reading, you should also highlight differences in word choice and connotations that you found significant. After reading, in a short well written essay, explain at least three differences of HOW the diction and word connotations affect your understanding of the events of this epic story. Be sure not only to explain what the differences are, but also explain WHY the words chosen are important (40 points). This excise here should resemble the type of close reading and analysis we have practiced in class.