SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 5: Demons, Trolls, and Witches: Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages

TuTh 8-9:30 , 205 Dwinelle. Instructor: Tiffany White

Units: 4

This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

Are you a muggle interested in the wizarding world? This course will satisfy not only your requirement for a writing course, but also your desire to know about the history of magic. Magic has captivated the minds and hearts of readers through series such as A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings—but what were the predecessors to such depictions of the supernatural? This course will survey medieval models used in popular depictions of the otherworldly, exploring the literary significance of magical people, beings, and animals in the Nordic middle ages. The central focus will be to problematize the dichotomies of magical/non-magical and good/evil, as well as to explore the marginalization of liminal figures with special abilities or appearances.

Alongside texts explicating the history of magic and science, we will read medieval stories (“sagas”) in translation about demons, trolls, werewolves, monsters, and witches. Throughout the semester, students will focus on developing research skills through a variety of exercises, including a class trip to the library (and the “restricted section”). Students will be separated into “houses” for participation purposes in the first course meeting.


They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing ISBN:  978-1469028613

Course reader (available at Copy Central)

Additional texts on bCourses

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.