SCANDINAVIAN 220: Early Scandinavian Literature: The Kings’ Sagas

Th 1-4 , Dwinelle 6415. Instructor: Jonas Wellendorf

Units: 4

This seminar will be devoted to the development of Old Norse historiography and the king’ sagas in the late twelfth century and the first half of the thirteenth. We will examine the changing depictions of kingship and life at court as depicted in these texts as well as the historical development of kingship in Scandinavia (mainly Norway) from the Viking age to the high-medieval period. Special attention will also be given to the role of Icelanders in the development of the kings’ saga genre as well as the Icelandic political context at the time of the composition of these texts.

Recent scholarly works on the kings’ sagas and Norwegian history will be read alongside classical scholarship and the medieval texts themselves. Vernacular texts will be read in their original linguistic form, while Latin texts will be read in Latin and/or in translation (depending on the preparation of the participants).

Primary readings will include the Norwegian synoptics, the major biographical sagas on Óláfr Tryggvason, Óláfr Haraldsson, Sverrir Sigurðarson and Hákon Hákonarson, as well as longer excerpts from the great kings’ saga compilations (Morkinskinna, Fagrskinna, and Heimskringla). Less commonly read works will include Bǫglunga saga and Hákonar saga Ívarssonar.

Prerequisites: At least two semesters of Old Norse language studies (or equivalent).