Indiana University

History J400 Anglo-Saxon England

Fall Semester 2006                                                                               Dr. Deborah M. Deliyannis

Place:  Ballantine Hall 335                                                                    Office:  Ballantine Hall 708

Time:  TuTh 4-5:15 pm                                                      Office Hours:  W 1:30-3:30 or by appt.

Section: 17581                                                                                                     Phone:  855-3431

website:  /                                      email:






When the Roman legions pulled out of Britain in the early fifth century, the island entered a "dark age", during which groups of people from the continent, known to us collectively as Anglo-Saxons, entered Britain and became its rulers.  In this course, we will examine the history and culture of Anglo-Saxon England from 400 to 1100.  We will consider a variety of issues such as the history of Christianity in England, social and political development, contacts with other islands and the continent, the repeated waves of invaders, the gradual unification of the island, and finally the the Norman conquest of 1066. We will read extensively in both primary and secondary sources, and we will also examine archaeological material in detail. 


One of the expectations of a senior seminar is that history students will learn how to write as historians write history.  In addition to discussing the history of Anglo-Saxon England, we will be discussing historial methodology and historical writing, both through discussion of your own research projects and through discussion of books and articles written by modern historians about Anglo-Saxon England.  We will pay particular attention to the way that scholars use the available primary sources to construct an argument.



The following books are available for purchase at the IU Bookstore:


            Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Anglo-Saxon World : An Anthology.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1999. 

            Peter Hunter Blair, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed., introduction by Simon Keynes.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2003. 

            Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People; The Greater Chronicle; Bede's Letter to Egbert. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1999. 

            J. F. Webb and D. H. Farmer, trans.  The Age of Bede.  Harmondsworth:  Penguin, 1998. 

            Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge, trans., Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources.  Harmondsworth:  Penguin, 1984. 



Additional books have been placed on reserve in the library; some of them will be assigned as book report topics, others contain assigned readings, and others might simply be useful for your research.  A list of these can be found at the end of the syllabus.



This course will be taught as a seminar; that is, classes will be discussion based, and students should expect to participate in, and perhaps occasionally lead, debate.  Each student will give an oral presentation on one book, and there will also be short weekly written exercises on the readings.   The major requirement of the course will be a research paper on a topic of the student's choice, which will also be presented orally to the class at the end of the semester.


Attendance and participation in discussion                                                      25%

Weekly written assignments                                                                          15%

Book report                                                                                                15%

Paper presentation                                                                                       15%

Research paper                                                                                            30%


Attendance will be taken in every class.  Participation means having done the assigned reading for the day, having formed opinions about it based on the set discussion question for the day, and taking part in discussion.


For each class there will be an assigned discussion question based on the readings.  You are to write a short one-page (double-spaced, 1" margins, 12-point font) response to the question.  These will be graded with check/check-minus/F.  You may miss up to 4 of them; I suggest that you save these in case you are sick or have some other emergency.  Your grade for this component of the class will be based on your turning in the correct number of papers, and performing satisfactorily on a majority of them.


Each student will present one book report on a scholarly book.  The books are listed by date on the syllabus, and there is a list at the end of the syllabus.  Your book report should take no more than 10 minutes (practice!  and be concise).  In it you should briefly explain (a) what the subject and thesis of the book are; (b) what primary sources the author uses in the book; and (c) whether you found it informative and convincing.


Your research paper should be 10-12 pages (12-point font, double spaced, 1" margins), and will be on a topic of your choice.  A list of suggested topics can be found at the end of the syllabus, and it is strongly suggested that you choose one of them; if you wish to write on something else, you must discuss it with me.  Paper topics must be officially declared in writing on September 30.  On October 30 you must turn in a preliminary bibliography for the paper. 


During the last two weeks of class, you will give a short (10-12 minute) presentation of the material that will be covered in your paper.  It is strongly suggested that your paper be finished by the date of your presentation.  Your presentation will be graded on how clearly you explain the topic of your paper, whether you use appropriate visual aids (diagrams, transparencies, etc.), whether you stick to the time limit, and how well you answer questions.


Research aids


The following on-line bibliography may be of use when you are writing your paper:




You should also consult the International Medieval Bibliography (IMB Online), which can be accessed online through the IU Libraries webpage at:




The History Department has set up an extremely useful webpage about writing research papers for J400 classes; it can be found at:





Link to detailed schedule