University of Rochester

EVENT: "Beowulfiana: Modern Adaptations of Beowulf," an exhibition of novels, comic books, films, and other items based on the Old English epic poem

TIME, DATE, AND PLACE: now through March 15, 2005, in the Rossell Hope Robbins Library, located on the fourth floor of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. Robbins Library hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The library will be closed Dec. 24, 2004, through Jan. 2, 2005.

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public
Note: Parking is available on University lots weeknights and on weekends.

December 14, 2004

A collection of contemporary memorabilia based on one of the oldest surviving texts in Old English is on exhibit through March 15, 2005, in the Rossell Hope Robbins Library in Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester’s River Campus.

“Beowulfania: Modern Adaptations of Beowulf” includes jewelry, books, music, films, and toys that can be traced to the plot, monsters, and heroes in the epic poem Beowulf. Based in Scandinavian folk tales, mythology, and history, the work survives in only one manuscript that dates from the early 11th century. The poem recounts the exploits of the great warrior Beowulf and his battles with the vicious monster Grendel, the monster’s mother, and a dragon.

The items on display are from the collection of English doctoral candidate John Sutton. Though not as well known in contemporary times as the King Arthur legends, the Beowulf tale has inspired related stories in popular culture. Movies like Predator or The 13th Warrior feature ferocious monsters like Grendel whose surprise attacks create great carnage. The warrior and monster also appear as die-cast figurines for use in such role-playing games as “Dungeons and Dragons,” on pendants, and on collectible playing cards.

In music, Howard Hanson, the famous composer, conductor, and Eastman School of Music director, wrote a choral piece titled “The Lament for Beowulf.” The tale also has inspired a rock musical, a musical comedy called “The Boy Who Cried Beowulf,” and a grunge rock band named Grendel.

In 1971, John Gardner penned Grendel, a retelling of the tale from the point of view of the monster as he grapples with issues of faith and reason and struggles to understand his place in the world. Gardner’s treatment inspired other works that voice outsiders’ commentary on society. A line of comic books on exhibit, for example, focuses on Grendel as an antihero whose nemesis is a wolf man, a twisted Beowulf figure.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. The Robbins Library is located on the fourth floor of Rush Rhees Library. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The library will be closed Dec. 24, 2004, through Jan. 2, 2005.

For more information, contact the Robbins Library at (585) 275-0110.




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