R5A Section 1: Reading and Composition: “The Viking Discovery of America – America’s Discovery of the Vikings”

TT 8-9:30 , 103 Wheeler. Instructor: Verena Hoefig

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

The first half of this class will explore medieval Icelandic (Old Norse) literature, with a focus on the discovery and settlement of Iceland, and subsequent (temporary) colonies of Norse explorers and Vikings in Greenland and North America. Archaeological evidence has confirmed that Viking settlers came to Iceland around the year 870, reached Greenland just before 1000, and explored the North-Eastern coast of the American continent shortly afterwards.

We will read how learned Christian writers in the thirteenth and fourteenth century present the adventures of their ancestors to a medieval audience, and explore the archaeology behind the Viking explorations in the North Atlantic. Finally, we will look at more recent texts and works of art from the United States and analyze how these works portray the Vikings. How have their discoveries influenced the identity and self-perception of Nordic Americans and immigrants to the United States during the past two centuries? Why are they still relevant to some today, and what can this tell us about processes of identity formation and the role of foundational narratives in this context?

This class fulfills the curricular goals for the first semester requirement of UC Berkeley’s Reading and Composition (R&C) courses. The overall goal of this class is to introduce relatively inexperienced writers to the practice of reading and writing frequently and attentively. We will explore questions of genre, audience and style as we encounter a wide variety of fictional and non-fictional texts, graphic novels and movies. We will learn how to pose meaningful questions to this material, and compose our own, original texts seeking to answer those questions.

Course Reader
Andrea A. Lunsford. The Everyday Writer. Fifth Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.
Brian Wood and Massimo Carnevale. Northlanders Vol. 7: The Icelandic Trilogy. Vertigo, 2013.
Keneva Kunz and Gísli Sigurðsson. The Vinland Sagas. Penguin Classics, 2008.
Additional material posted on course website

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement. Students may not enroll or attend R1A/R5A courses without completing this prerequisite.