The Epic in English-Language Poetry


In the modern world, emphasis is often placed on succinctness and brevity. But it hasn’t always been so. Meanwhile, poets have always responded to the challenge of the epic: writing their own versions, or taking on the form through parody or ‘mock-Epic’. What can long-form poetry tell us about humanity, and what can it say that a tweet can’t? Listen to specialists on the form discuss how the idea of the ‘Epic’ in English-language poetry has developed since Beowulf, and continues to have relevance today.

How this lecture series will work

A new recorded lecture will be released weekly each Monday, for the three weeks of the series. (See release dates below.)

There will be a live, online Q&A sessions for you to join - your chance to ask questions of the speakers. This will be held from 5-6pm (UK time) on Friday 27 May 2022.

The recorded lectures will remain online and available to watch and review until Friday 3 June 2022. (For reasons of data privacy, the Q&A sessions will not be recorded.)

Programme details

Monday 2 May: Lecture

Biblical and Germanic Epic in Anglo-Saxon England: Beowulf and the poems of the Junius Manuscript

Dr. Francis Leneghan

Monday 9 May: Lecture

‘This pendant world, in bigness as a star’: Milton’s cosmic epic

Dr. Roberta Klimt

Monday 23 May: Lecture

Kae Tempest and Ovid in Hold Your Own (2014)

Zoe Jennings

Friday 27 May, 5-6pm BST (UTC+1): LIVE Q&A

Chaired by Dr. Tara Stubbs


Description Costs
3 lectures, 1 live interactive session £45.00


If you are a UK resident in receipt of a UK state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Francis Leneghan


Francis Leneghan is Associate Professor of Old English at the University of Oxford, and a fellow of St. Cross College. He is the author of The Dynastic Drama of Beowulf (2020), and editor of two volumes on medieval translations of the Psalms, as well as numerous articles and essays on Old English literature. He is co-organiser of The Oxford Psalms Network and Oxford Medieval Studies, both run by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities). He was educated at Trinity College Dublin, where he worked before coming to Oxford in 2008.

Dr Roberta Klimt


Roberta Klimt is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at King’s College London, working on John Milton and the Italian questione della lingua. Her PhD (from University College London) and first book were on the eighteenth-century reception of Milton’s Poems (1645). She teaches and researches seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English literature, and also writes on twentieth-century Jewish-American fiction, especially Philip Roth.

Ms Zoe Jennings


Zoë Jennings is a second-year DPhil Classics student at Queen’s College Oxford, writing a thesis on Ovid’s Metamorphoses in contemporary performance under the supervision of Prof. Fiona Macintosh. She gained her BA and MA at Durham University, and spent a year working at Oxford’s Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama before starting her DPhil in 2019.

Dr Tara Stubbs

Director of Studies and Course Director

Dr Tara Stubbs is an Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing at OUDCE, and a Fellow of Kellogg College Oxford. For 2017–2020 she was the Academic Programme Director of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford. Her first book was American Literature and Irish Culture, 1910–1955 (2013), which was re-issued in paperback in 2017. Her interests include American and Irish literature, modernism and poetry, and she has published widely in these fields. In 2017 she co-edited the essay collection Navigating the Transnational in Modern American Literature and Culture (2017), and her second monograph, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020, was The Modern Irish Sonnet: Revision and Rebellion.

IT requirements

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment, where students and tutors will discuss and interact in real time. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

You will be able to access online lectures until a week after the end of the course.