Hugh Magennis

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Personal profile


A member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the English Association, Hugh Magennis is Professor Emeritus in the School of English, having formerly been on the staff of Queen's University since the 1970s. During his time at Queen's he has held a range of positions of responsibility, including Advisor of Studies, Associate Dean, Head of the School of English and Director of the Institute of Theology. Outside Queen's Hugh has served on many advisory boards and subject-specialist committees, including those of the International Association of Anglo-Saxonists (ISAS) and Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland (TOEBI); he has been chair (2004-11)and honarary presideent (2011-) of the latter association.

Research Statement

Hugh Magennis's research focuses on ideas and imagery in Old English and related literature, especially with reference to poetic texts, on the reception of Anglo-Saxon writings in the modern period, and on saints' lives, a major genre in the Middle Ages. His recent publications include a monograph on modern poetic translations of Beowulf, giving prominence to the version by Seamus Heaney, Translating Beowulf (D. S. Brewer, 2011), a co-edited volume (with Mary Swan) showcasing current research on the Old English writer Ælfric, A Companion to Ælfric (Brill, 2009), for which he wrote a chapter surveying the history of Ælfric scholarship, and The Cambridge Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature (CUP, 2011); he also produced (with colleague Ivan Herbison) an enlarged revised version of their textbook Discovering Old English: Guided Readings (Ultonian Press, 2007). Among current projects, Hugh is working (with Johanna Kramer and Robin Norris) on an edition with translation of anonymous Old English prose saints' lives for the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library and is co-editing (with Marilina Cesario) the edited volume Aspects of Knowledge:Preserving and Reinventing Traditions of Knowledge in the Middle Ages (Manchester University Press).

Some recent publications:

The Power of Words: Anglo-Saxon Studies Presented to Donald G. Scragg on his Seventieth Birthday, ed. Hugh Magennis and Jonathan Wilcox. Medieval European Studies, 8 (Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press, 2006), including the chapter by Hugh Magennis, 'Ælfric and Heroic Literature', pp. 31-60

A Companion to Ælfric, ed. Hugh Magennis and Mary Swan. Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition, 18 (Leiden and Boston, MA: Brill, 2009), including the chapter by Hugh Magennis, 'Ælfric Scholarship', pp. 5-34

Translating Beowulf: Modern Versions in English Verse (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2011)

The Cambridge Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature (Cambridge: CUP, 2011)

'Crowd Control? Depictions of the Many in Anglo-Saxon Literature, with Particular Reference to the Old English Legend of the Seven Sleepers’, English Studies, 93 (2012), 119-37

‘Not Angles but Anglicans? Reformation and Post-Reformation Perspectives on the Anglo-Saxon Church, Part I: Bede, Ælfric and the Anglo-Saxon Church in Early Modern England’, ‘Not Angles but Anglicans? Reformation and Post-Reformation Perspectives on the Anglo-Saxon Church, Part II: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, English Studies, 96 (2015), 243-63, 363-378


Hugh Magennis's teaching interests have ranged widely in the medieval field and beyond, including Icelandic literature, the Bible in English and the history of the English language, but have concentrated particularly on writings from Anglo-Saxon England. He has a number of teaching related publications, including, most recently, The Cambridge Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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