Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How Beowulf Should Have Ended

(Teaser: Funny video at the end of the post.)

We're wrapping up another semester in the world of college academics, and yesterday, my last day of regular classes at The Citadel as a visiting professor, was bittersweet. I still have essays to grade (the ill effect of caving to four sections' pleas to move due dates ever closer to the semester's end) and final exams to administer, but those are quiet times--brief instructions at the outset, the slam of a stapler and a quiet handshake at the end, and sometimes not even that if I've stepped from the room. Yesterday was my last few hours here "on stage," more or less--a whirlwind review of an entire semester's guided tour through British Literature from Beowulf to Samuel Johnson. (I say "an entire semester" as if that's a long time to spend on nearly a millennium's worth of literature, all the while remembering that in grad school we would frequently spend an entire semester on one author, and sometimes, one book. Different goals.)

I think people doubt me when I tell them I usually learn as much from my students as they from me, but I mean that. The lessons I take from this year will be the fodder of other blog posts yet to come.

This one, though, is dedicated to a little bit of fun that wrapped up the semester in my final class in my final day in class here. I wish I'd know about it the hour before. As we opened our review with the text that opened our semester, Beowulf, one of the cadets asked if I'd seen, "How Beowulf Should Have Ended," on YouTube. I confessed I'd not, and then we agreed to return to it if there was time at the end of the hour. There was just enough time. It was fun--an entertaining note to end on.

The Beowulf it addresses in this case is the most recent film version rather than the poem, but that is, after all, the version most likely familiar to the greatest number (as even those who've read the poem have likely seen the movie since and now have some conflated version of the tale in their heads). If you've only read the poem, this won't be quite as funny, and the "Did you kill Grendel's mother?" bit won't make sense, but if you've seen the movie, this should get at least an amused chuckle. Enjoy.