Marijane Osborn

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Professor Emerita

Marijane Osborn
OccupationAcademic, writer and researcher with specialism in medieval literature and culture
Academic background
Alma materStanford University
Academic work
DisciplineMedieval Studies, Old English literature
InstitutionsUC Davis

Marijane Osborn (born 1934) is an American academic. Her research spans literary disciplines, she is a specialist in Old English and Norse literature, and she has published on runes, Middle English, Victorian and contemporary poets and writers, film, and is a translator and fiction writer.[1][2][3][4][5] She is Professor Emerita at UC Davis.[1]

Academic career[edit]

Professor Osborn's holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, class of 1962.[6] She holds an MA and PhD from Stanford University, completing her postgraduate study as the first supervisee of Fred C Robinson in 1969.[6] She has held a teaching position at UC Davis since 1981, retiring to Emerita status in 2007.[6] Osborn has also taught or held fellowships at the Universities of Oxford, Syracuse, Columbia, Lancaster, Edinburgh, Queen's Belfast, Alaska, Hawaii, Iceland, and UC Davis.[1]


Osborn held a research Fellowship at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh in 1973, during which time she researched Old English poetry and developed her interest in 'place study'.[7] Osborn went on to hold a Fulbright Fellowship to Iceland, 1978–79 and 1983-84.[1] Arising from this work in Scotland and Iceland, Osborn and her collaborator, Gillian Overing, pioneered the application of place study to early medieval literary studies in their book Landscape of Desire (1994), which was dismissed or ignored by some scholars at the time,[8] but is now recognised as pioneering ecocriticsm.[7][9][10]

Osborn's translation of Beowulf, published as a Verse Translation with Treasures of the Ancient North (1983), brought together material culture from across northern Europe to 'help us visualise the world of the poem'.[11]

Osborn is well known for her work on medieval work in translation, especially the Old English poem Beowulf. In 2003, the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies published Marijane Osborn's annotated list of over 300 translations and adaptations.[12]

A festschrift, Translating the Past, containing essays on Old English, Middle English, and Renaissance literature in their original and translated contexts, was published in honour of Osborn in 2012.[13]

Selected publications[edit]

Non fiction[edit]

Beowulf, A Likeness, (1990) a collaboration with designer Randolph Swearer and poet Raymond Oliver ISBN 9780300048766

Landscape of Desire: Partial Stories of the Medieval Scandinavian World, (1994), written with Gillian Overing ISBN 9780816623754

The Twilight Mystique: Critical Essays on the Novels and Films, (2010), a collection of essays on the Twilight franchise, edited with Amy M. Clarke and Donald E. Palumbo ISBN 0786462043

Translations and creative versions of medieval literature[edit]

Beowulf, a Verse Translation with Treasures of the Ancient North (1983), ISBN 0783746776[14]

'The Fates of Women (from four Anglo-Saxon poems)', in New Readings on Women in Old English Literature, ed. by Helen Damico and Alexandra Hennessey Olsen, pp. xi-xiii.[15]

Grendel's Mother Broods Over Her Feral Son (2006), published in the Old English Newsletter.[16]

Nine Medieval Romances of Magic (2010), ISBN 9781551119977

Thirty Viking Haikus (2015) published in Stand magazine.[17]

Poetry Translations[edit]

"Sunstone", translation of a major long poem by Octavio Paz, Hyperion 13, 177-188.


The Woods of Leith, forthcoming children's book.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Marijane Osborn Profile, Department of English". UC Davis.
  2. ^ Osborn, Marijane (1974). "The Vanishing Seabirds in "The Wanderer"". Folklore. 85 (2): 122–127. doi:10.1080/0015587X.1974.9716543. JSTOR 1260059.
  3. ^ Osborn, Marijane (2003). "Tir as Mars in the Old English Rune Poem". ANQ. 16: 3–13. doi:10.1080/08957690309598179. S2CID 161242275.
  4. ^ Osborn, Marijane; Enfijian, Harry (2009). "The Iconographic Parodies Bracketing Chaucer's Summoner's Tale". In Hollengreen, L H (ed.). Translatio or the Transmission of Culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: Modes and Messages. Brepols. ISBN 978-2-503-51892-3.
  5. ^ Osborn, Marijane (2009). ""Strangely Jumbled": Attitudes Toward the Native Other in Melville's and D. H. Lawrence's Captivity Narratives". Leviathan. 11 (2): 57–70. doi:10.1111/j.1750-1849.2009.01318.x. S2CID 145573200.
  6. ^ a b c Liuzza, R M (2006). "Editor's Note: Grendel's Mother Broods Over Her Feral Son". Old English Newsletter. 39 (3): 20–21.
  7. ^ a b c Osborn, Marijane. "Featured Fellow: Marijane Osborn". University of Edinburgh.
  8. ^ MacPherson, Alan (1995). "Review: Landscape of Desire: Partial Stories of the Medieval Scandinavian World by Gillian R. Overing, Marijane Osborn". Geographical Review. 85 (3): 404–406. doi:10.2307/215293. JSTOR 215293.
  9. ^ "Visions and Ruins Q and A with Joshua Davies". University of Manchester. 14 May 2018.
  10. ^ Phelpstead, Carl (2014). "Ecocriticism and Eyrbyggja saga". Leeds Studies in English. New Series XLV: 1–18.
  11. ^ Osborn, Marijane. "Writers Inspire: Beowulf, a Verse Translation with Treasures of the Ancient North (Part 1)". University of Oxford: Writers Inspire.
  12. ^ Osborn, Marijane (2003). "Annotated List of Beowulf Translations". Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Archived from the original on 2018-06-27.
  13. ^ Beal, Jane; Bradshaw Busbee, Mark. "Translating the Past: Essays on Medieval Literature in Honor of Marijane Osborn". Arizona Centre for Medieval Studies.
  14. ^ "Beowulf: A Verse Translation with Treasures of the Ancient North (Part 1)". University of Oxford. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  15. ^ Damico, Helen; Hennessey, Olsen Alexandra; Olsen, Alexandra Hennessey (1990). New Readings on Women in Old English Literature. Indiana University Press. pp. xi–xiii. ISBN 978-0-253-20547-6.
  16. ^ Osborn, Marijane (2006). "Grendel's Mother Broods Over Her Feral Son". The Old English Newsletter. 39 (3): 20–21.
  17. ^ Osborn, Marijane (2015). "Thirty Viking Haikus". Stand Magazine. Issue 206, Volume 13, Number 2.