Beowulf Lessons for High School

Seven Beowulf Lesson Plans and Resources

It’s that time of year again for British Literature teachers. It’s time for Beowulf! Have you started your journey into Anglo-Saxon poetry? My usual early fall Anglo-Saxon routine culminates with a three-week unit on Beowulf followed by a short unit on The Hero’s Journey. I didn’t always enjoy teaching Beowulf. At first, honestly, it was excruciating. But over the next few years, I gained confidence, learned it was okay to not have all the answers, and have grown to enjoy the wonders of this text.

I mean, think about it. Beyond its monstrous, blood-thirsty heroic tale, this epic poem is a glimpse into the mind of a poet who lived nearly 1,300 years ago who, while living without running water, indoor plumbing, or electricity, understood how to craft chain mail armor, forge iron utensils, thrive on a barren plain, and survive at sea.

Seriously, how are we even here?!

If Beowulf amazes you and you can’t wait to start your unit (or whether it bores you to tears and you can’t wait to get it over with!), allow me to offer some ideas to enliven your Beowulf teaching.

Here are some links to my collection of blog posts on teaching Beowulf. I hope they spark your passion for this foundational text!

A Better Beowulf Unit Begins with Sutton Hoo

The Dark Ages discovery builds Beowulf engagement Need an awesome nonfiction text to enhance your Beowulf unit? Look no further! I have a resource for you that you really must check out. It’s titled “Revisiting Sutton Hoo, Britain’s Mythical Ship Burial.” Written by Sam Knight and published in The New Yorker (August 9, 2019), this…

When Christian Bale becomes Beowulf

Here’s another way to infuse relevance into Beowulf When you extend your Beowulf unit into a mini-unit on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, three things will happen: 1) You’ll build excitement to read an Anglo-Saxon poem so old we don’t even know exactly when it was written or by whom. 2) You’ll open students’ eyes to…

Check Out The Hero’s Journey Podcast

A great supplement to teaching the hero’s journey Have you discovered “The Hero’s Journey” podcast? Subtitled “Books & Films Through a Mythical Lens,” this is a fantastically interesting podcast I used in February to supplement my hero’s journey lessons. Use the monthly show to introduce students to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey in popular movies, some…

Marilyn Yung

Thanks for reading! And feel free to click on through to the posts above for fresh ideas on how to connect Beowulf to contemporary life. Despite my initial reluctance to teach Beowulf, I have grown to love its monstrous blend of violence, heroism, defeat, and remembrance.

If you have any questions about the posts above, leave a message below or via my Contact page. I’ll be glad to help!

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Published by Marilyn Yung

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

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