Sixteen centuries ago a wave of settlers from northern Europe came to the British Isles speaking a mix of Germanic dialects thick with consonants and complex grammatical forms. Today we call that dialect Old English, the ancestor of the language nearly one in five people in the world speaks every day.
The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition, is Professor Seth Lerer's revised and updated investigation of the remarkable history of English, from the powerful prose of King Alfred in the Middle Ages to the modern-day sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr. Throughout its history, English has been an unusually mutable language, readily accepting new terms and new ways of conveying meaning. Professor Lerer brings this second edition up-to-date by including discussions of the latest changes brought about through such phenomena as hip hop, e-mail, text messaging, and the world wide web.
Seth Lerer is the Avalon Foundation Professor in Humanities and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He served as Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature from 1997 to 2000. Dr. Lerer earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University, a second B.A. from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prior to taking his position at Stanford, he taught at Princeton University. In 1996, he was the Hurst Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Lerer's research interests include medieval and Renaissance studies, Early Tudor literary culture, textual criticism, and Old and Middle English literature. Professor Lerer has published six books, including Chaucer and His Readers, and Courtly Letters in the Age of Henry VIII. He is the author of more than 40 scholarly articles and reviews.
This is a 36-lecture course, each lecture being thirty minutes in length. The subject is fascinating, and Lerer is obviously learned and highly articulate if intermittently frustratingly dry and pedantic, nevertheless, to the listener's relief, often highly witty as well.