At the beginning of August Lorna Oakes came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the parallels between Ancient Egyptian literary sources and the Old Testament. In her lecture she covered several sorts of literature including myths, legends, hymns & prayers and prophecy.
The epic poem Beowulf is probably the best known piece of Anglo-Saxon literature - it's certainly one I was aware of, and had an idea of the shape of the story before we listened to the In Our Time episode about it. However it was unknown until the 19th Century when a single manuscript copy dating from around 1100AD was discovered. The three experts who discussed it on the programme were Laura Ashe (University of Oxford), Clare Lees (King's College London) and Andy Orchard (University of Oxford).
Rudyard Kipling is one of the most well known British writers of the late 19th & early 20th Century - I suspect nearly everyone has heard of something he wrote ("The Jungle Book", "If--", "Tommy" ...). His reputation as a great writer in modern times has been overshadowed by the fact that he was an apologist for the British Empire with the sort of racist views that that entails.
I'd not intended to overlap courses on Future Learn, because I thought it might end up feeling like it was taking up too much of my time. I was right, but I'm still glad I took the Literature of the English Country House course even tho it has overlapped with two courses that I'd already signed up for.
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is a poem by the 19th Century English poet Edward Fitzgerald which is a loose translation of several quatrains attributed to the 11th Century Iranian poet Omar Khayyam. The three experts who discussed it on In Our Time were Charles Melville (University of Cambridge), Daniel Karlin (University of Bristol) and Kirstie Blair (University of Stirling), and they talked about both what is known about the original Persian verses and author as well as Fitzgerald's version.
On Sunday Linda Steynor came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about a Middle Kingdom Egyptian poem called "The Eloquent Peasant". She started her talk by telling us the plot of the story. This poem follows an Egyptian small market trader, Khunanup, who travels from his home on the outskirts of Egypt to the capital. The journey is not easy, and on his way there he has to travel along a very narrow path between the Nile and the farmlands.
On Sunday we listened to the most recent In Our Time episode - jumping ahead from where we're caught up to because the subject of this weeks one was something J had been looking forward to hearing. The programme was about one of the surviving pieces of Middle Kingdom literature, called The Tale of Sinuhe. The three experts discussing it were Richard Parkinson (University of Oxford), Roland Enmarch (University of Liverpool) and Aidan Dodson (University of Bristol).
The second episode of Helen Castor's She Wolves: England's Early Queens was about Isabella of France & Margaret of Anjou. Neither of these women ruled England in their own right, but both ruled in the name of a man (son & husband respectively) and neither have been remembered kindly by history. Rather unfairly, I think (although Isabella brought it on herself to some degree).
The Icelandic Sagas were written down in the 13th Century and tell the stories of the original colonists of Iceland and their descendants. On In Our Time the context & contents of these sagas were discussed by Carolyne Larrington (St John's College, Oxford), Elizabeth Ashman Rowe (University of Cambridge) and Emily Lethbridge (Árni Magnússon Manuscripts Institute in Reykjavík).