Honors | Vikings and Sagas
E103 | 0028 | K. Gade


1:25-2:15pm  MW  JH  A100

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.