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 for their literary qualities and because they 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.