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Tolkien’s take on Beowulf

For Zachary Treu ’13, writing about Beowulf translations is nothing new. Getting paid for it is, however.

This time last year, Treu was in English professor Melinda Menzer’s senior seminar on—you guessed it—Beowulf, writing an “excellent” paper on translations of the poem. Treu has since graduated and joined the staff of PBS Newshour in Washington, D.C., and that knowledge came in handy when he was assigned to produce a piece on J.R.R. Tolkien’s long-awaited take on the poem.

“One of the oldest, longest and most influential works in the history of Old English will soon be experienced though the eyes of the one of the world’s most beloved fantasy authors,” is the lead of Treu’s March 19 article on

Tolkien completed the work in 1926 and was, at the time, as well known as a scholar of Anglo-Saxon language as he was for writing the The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Treu has already written about a wide variety of subjects for PBS in his brief career, including pieces on wooly mammoth cloning, adding words to the Scrabble dictionary, and the Affordable Care Act.

“Zachary was a strong student who worked hard, and his writing for PBS Newshour is engaging and informative. As a professor, I don’t often get to see such an explicit connection between the subject matter in an English department senior seminar paper and a student’s future work; however, our majors use the skills they develop in our seminars—their ability to analyze texts, synthesize research, and present information clearly—in a wide variety of careers, no matter what the topic of the seminar or the specifics of their job,” Menzer said.


Last updated March 27, 2014
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Clinton Colmenares
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