Germanic Languages | Vikings and Sagas
E361 | 26328 | Gade
‘Vikings and Sagas’ is a course designed as an introduction to Old
Norse history, culture, and literature, focusing on the Viking Age (c.
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). We
shall examine the validity of the source-material (archaeological
evidence, written records [annals, medieval histories, sagas]) 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
social customs, law and legal systems, pagan religion, the conversion
to Christianity, etc. We shall also focus on the image of the Vikings
in contemporary society, and explore why the Viking-Age has continued
to fascinate generations from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
During the course we shall read 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. These sagas will provide the background for a broader
discussion of Old Norse-Icelandic literature, of the problems involved
in using literature as historical sources, and of the sagas as
literature from a modern point of view.
1. The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection. New York: Viking, 2000. ISBN:
2. Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson, trans. King Harald’s Saga.
Penguin Classics. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966. No ISBN given.
3. Roesdahl, Else: The Vikings. Trans. Susan M. Margeson and Kirsten
Williams. Second revised edn. New York: Penguin Books.1998. No ISBN given.