(The following excerpt from The Elegance Of Beowulf In One Hundred Tweets by Alexis C. Madrigal recently appeared on theatlantic.com. To view it in its entirety please click on the link below.)
From years of use, people know this: Twitter can be a lot of noise.
But sometimes, to get a tweet just right, to make it fit, I stop and consider the language. In this digital format, we are forced to distill and compress, two poetic virtues that the web rarely requires.
But what if you’re not trying to describe an airport or a sunset, but Beowulf, the (gory, dark) epic Old English poem?
That was the task that Stanford medievalist (and “text technologies”) researcher Elaine Treharne took on. She compressed Beowulf into 100 tweets as part of teaching her course on the many “existing and imagined manifestations” of the work.