January 30, 2014

Tweeting Beowulf


The first page of the Beowulf manuscript

The first page of the Beowulf manuscript

Welsh medievalist Elaine Treharne describes her blog, Text Technologies, as “Thoughts on the textual and literary, & on text technologies from Babylonian cuneiform to Twitter, with an eye on the medieval.” So her most recent experiment was right in that wheelhouse—tweeting Beowulf, in 100 140-character installments.

Treharne explains that she is preparing to teach a course, “Beowulf From Then ’til Now;” she writes that “The underlying theoretical question for this course is “What is (the) Text?” What constitutes Beowulf? What is its core and what do we understand by “Beowulf”?” The Twitter project was a way to see “what we’d do with a social media version of the poem.” As the Daily NewsPage Views blog put it, “Her project explores broader questions of text and textuality: what does it mean to treat a centuries old text with a modern medium?”

Ignoring the recent controversy over the translation of the opening line, Treharne kicked things off with her first #Beow100 tweet, “Hey, you know those awesome Danish kings of old? Scyld was the best, though he came from nothing. And his son, Beow, did him proud. #Beow100

Here are a few more selections from the month long project.







Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.