College Of Arts And Sciences | Vikings and Sagas
E103 | 0058 | Gade
2:30-3:20 MW CH 033
Vikings and Sagas is a course designed as an introduction to Old Norse
history, culture, and literature, focusing on the Viking period (ca.
793-1066). In the course of the semester, we shall explore the nature and
expansion of Viking activities during that period (e.g., on the Continent,
in the Mediterranean, in the British Isles, Ireland, Greenland, North
America, as well as within Scandinavia itself) and examine the validity of
the source-material (archaeological evidence, place names, written records
[annals, medieval histories]) and the different theories formulated to
explain the onset of the Viking Age. The discussion of the cultural aspects
will deal with such issues as law and legal systems, pagan religion, the
conversion to Christianity, social customs, etc.
During the course we shall read three sagas that not only will serve as an
introduction to Old Norse literature (prose and poetry), but also bring
first-hand information about the socio-historical aspects of the Viking Age.
The sagas have been chosen not only for their literary qualities, but so as
to create a natural progression, both geographically and chronologically.
These sagas will also provide the background for a broader discussion of
Norse literature and the problems involved in using literature as historical
sources. The pertinent sections in Roesdahl's The Vikings will be read in
conjunction with the lectures and the sagas. A series of 10 videotapes
(BBC's The Vikings) has been incorporated into the courses and will be shown
with regular intervals (approximately every 2 weeks).
The grade will be based on two shorter position papers and a final, longer
paper (7-10 pp.).
Required Readings: The Vikings, Else Roesdahl; The Saga of the
Jornsvikings, tr. Lee M. Hollander; Egill's Saga, tr. Hermann Palsson and
Paul Edwards; The Vinland Sagas, tr. Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson;
King Harald's Saga, tr. Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson.