A date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 9. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel.
After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated.
Despite the uncertainty ushered in by the conference and the subsequent collection of essays, many scholars have made important contributions to our efforts to date Beowulf over the last thirty years, and strong arguments have emerged on paleographical, linguistic, metrical, cultural, and historical grounds, among others. Fulk, Class of 1964 Chancellor's Professor of English at Indiana University, will be giving the conference's plenary address.
It has animated and continues to animate a great deal of scholarship on Beowulf, often with ramifications for the study of Anglo-Saxon literature and culture as a whole.
Scholars had once agreed with near unanimity that Beowulf was one of the earliest extant Old English poems, yet the University of Toronto's 1980 conference on the dating of Beowulf – presenting arguments for ninth, tenth, and early eleventh century composition – threw open the question again.
Contrary to what might be expected, though, this book is not about the prehistory of this debate.
Since then “few topics in Anglo-Saxon studies have generated as much speculation and scholarship as the dating of Beowulf”, writes Leonard Neidorf in his recently edited volume on the “Dating of Beowulf”.
Biggs'Give the People What They Want': Historiography and Rhetorical History of the Dating of Beowulf Controversy - Michael D.