[PSY 230] - Midterm Exam Guide - Everything you need to know! (86 pages long)

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PSY 230
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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BEOWULF LECTURE
Genre: Primary Epic- oral in origin and eventually (sometimes) written down, known as
transcribing
Secondary Epic- written in origin (ex: Milton’s Paradise Lost)
Time Frame of Beowulf: 475-575 A.D. (Early Germanic Era- Pagan Culture)
Battle of Northern Germany took place on 510 A.D. in the poem, suggesting this was
when the poem was told
Cultural and Historical Context:
Period of Oral Composition: 600-80 A.D. (Time of Religious and Cultural Transformation)
Anglo-Saxon English culture introduced
Introduction of Christianity
Poem contains both pagan and Christian references
Period of Transcription: 800-1000 A.D. in England
Anglo-Saxon Era
England is becoming more and more Christian
What is Pagan and what is Christian is difficult to determine in poem
Characteristics of Epics:
1. National or Cultural Past
a. Intend to educate themselves of their cultural past, so epics always take place in
the past
b. Two major tribes: Danes and Geats (from Sweden)
2. Epic Hero
a. Beowulf is the epic hero of this poem
b. Serves as the personification or embodiment of the ideal traits and characteristics
of a particular culture
3. Epic Distance or Absolute Past
a. Combination of first two
b. Epics always take place in the past and they tend to idealize the past. Past is
superior to the present
Important Terms:
Scop: an oral poet who would memorize these poems and go around the countryside reciting
poems on various occasions (bard)
Wyrd: the Anglo-Saxon and early Germanic term for fate
Pagan faith and Christian faith are both present in the poem
Kenning: a particular characteristic of Anglo-Saxon poetry; a compound noun (more than one
noun) working as a metaphor
Ex: whale road (body of salt water)
Ex: swan road (body of fresh water)
Ex: bone house (human body)
Ex: bone lock (joints)
Comitatus: basic governmental structure of these early Germanic and Anglo-Saxon tribes
Militaristic societies
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King was warriors called comitatus. He leads his warriors into battle. If they win, the
king will distribute some of what they win to these warriors
o Political and material loyalty
Wergild: man price (price of a man)
If a man is killed in battle, you are supposed to avenge him (kill one of the enemy)
Or the warrior who does the killing should pay a ransom to the family of the man who
died
Thane: term for a warrior
Embedded Narrative: Embedded narrative are italicized in our anthology
Story with no seemingly no relevance to the story, but it was obviously put in there for a
reason
Why is it significant to include?
Some issues to consider as you read Beowulf:
Societal Values
Militaristic
Patriarchal
Cultural Definition of the Epic Hero
What makes it about Beowulf that makes him an idealized member of this culture?
Religious Themes and References- Both Christian and Pagan
Gender Roles
Social construction of men and women
What seems to be the proper behavior for men? Women?
Definition of Evil- Both Universal and Culturally Specific
Ex: most cultures consider killing to be evil
Monsters in the poem
o Physical descriptions
o Behaviors that make them evil
o Evil from a modern perspective?
Contingent on history
Gender Roles in Terms of Different Generations
Young Man- Warrior
Old Man- Advisor and Counselor
Young Woman- get married and have babies
Old Woman- ???
BEOWULF LECTURE 2 (1-662)
Royals tend to name themselves after weapons or animals
Shiefson (shield)
Beowulf (wolf)
Three sons are listed first and then a daughter with no name (lines 61)
This happens in the book a lot because women’s jobs are to be married off to other royal
families and to have children
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