In Search of English: The History of Our Mother Tongue

Gettysburg College

In Search of English: The History of Our Mother Tongue

Gettysburg College

Audio Sample:

The history of a language is the history of the people who speak it, those who read and write it, and those who come into contact with it. Now, this series invites you to explore your heritage from an unconventional angle: through the origin and development of the English language.

Leading your expedition is Christopher R. Fee, an award-winning professor and medievalist whose expertise spans Old English, Old Norse, and historical linguistics. With flair and gusto, he draws from this well of knowledge to help

Audio Sample:

The history of a language is the history of the people who speak it, those who read and write it, and those who come into contact with it. Now, this series invites you to explore your heritage from an unconventional angle: through the origin and development of the English language.

Leading your expedition is Christopher R. Fee, an award-winning professor and medievalist whose expertise spans Old English, Old Norse, and historical linguistics. With flair and gusto, he draws from this well of knowledge to help you trace the evolution of English across a fascinating range of cultures.

In liberal arts fashion, this series of 24 lectures mixes the study of technical subjects (like phonetics, linguistics, and historical grammar) with more abstract cultural issues, such as

  • the impact of the Norman Invasion on Old English,
  • the advent of the printing press,
  • the place of Ebonics in the modern public school curriculum,
  • how English became a world language, and
  • how close the Vikings came to ensuring that this course might have been about Danish instead of English.

Prof. Fee has a knack for spinning the wildest yarns out of the most threadbare of events. Expect to enjoy his account of the characters “worthy of a seamy soap opera” tasked with writing a dictionary.

Language is a cornerstone—arguably the very foundation—of human culture. It is a vital part of who we are and a subject invaluable to anyone interested in the humanities.

Learn about downloadable programs.

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  • The Value of Historical Linguistics to the Modern Reader
  • What Is Language? A Crash Course in Linguistic Terminology and Concepts
  • The Nature of Linguistic Change
  • Phonology and the Production of Speech
  • Writing Systems, Literacy, and the Culture of the Book
  • Introduction to Indo-European
  • Introduction to Germanic
  • Introduction to the Anglo-Saxon Period, Culture, and Language
  • Contemplating Old English Religious Poetry
  • Old English Epic Poetry, Beowulf, and the Germanic Heroic Tradition
  • Viking Raiders, the Dane Law, and the Battle for English
  • Introduction to the Middle English Period, Culture, and Language
  • Pronouncing Chaucer
  • Middle English Dialects
  • Introduction to Early Modern English and Renaissance England
  • Caxton and the Print Revolution
  • “What Fools These Mortals Be”: The Magic of Shakespeare’s English
  • The Linguistics of Religion: The King James Bible
  • Introducing Dictionaries
  • Etymology as Cultural Archaeology
  • What’s New About English?
  • English Around the World: How Did That Happen?
  • Made in the USA: American English Today
  • The Legacy of Empire: Global English

Christopher R. Fee is an expert on medieval literature. He is currently Professor of English and the Chair of the English department at Gettysburg College, where he served as the Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities from 2008 to 2011. Named one of the 300 best professors in America by the Princeton Review, Dr. Fee has received a variety of honors, grants, and fellowships for his teaching and research.

Dr. Fee has written numerous articles and given presentations and lectures around the world. His books include Gods, Heroes, and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain; Mythology in the Middle Ages: Heroic Tales of Monsters, Magic, and Might; The Goddess: Myths of the Great Mother; and Arthur: God & Hero in Avalon. Fee is also editor of the Encyclopedia of American Myth, Legend, and Folklore and the Encyclopedia of Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories in American History. Prof. Fee earned his Ph.D. in English Language at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where he was a postgraduate tutor in topics including Old English, Old Norse, and historical linguistics. He is also a frequent visiting faculty member at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen.

Praise for Professor Chris Fee

“Chris Fee is one of the best teachers I’ve ever met. His knowledge of the Middle Ages, and of the Vikings, is exhaustive. I have learned so much from him, and I know all of the listeners will too.”
– Dr. Joshua Eyler, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities at Rice University

“Chris Fee is a tremendously engaging speaker—energetic, organized, and clear. As his students and colleagues in the academy know, Fee is deeply learned, but he wears his learning lightly. You couldn’t ask for a better guide to the ancient world of Northern Europe.”
– Stephen Harris, Ph.D., Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

 

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