Deepen your acquaintance with all things Viking! This course explores the riches of the sagas, the most famous literary genre of medieval Scandinavia. These dramatic stories, full of subtlety, ambivalence and dry humor, invite you to empathize with shield-maidens, homicidal poets, Viking explorers and pagan believers. While the course will emphasize reading, understanding, discussing and writing about the literature of this period, we will also learn about the roots of Scandinavian literature in the Viking Age, and about its material, historical and cultural contexts. Readings will include The Book of the Icelanders, Hrafnkel’s saga, Egil’s saga, The Vinland sagas, and Hervör’s saga, and selections from Heimskringla, The Book of Settlements, and the Prose Edda.
Margaret Clunies Ross, The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga. Cambridge. ISBN 978-0521735209. Required.
The Sagas of Icelanders with a preface by Jane Smiley. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. ISBN 978-0141000039. Required.
Prerequisites: None. Readings are in English.
Course load: Short in-class presentation, midterm test, term paper (6-7 pages, doublespaced), final exam.