SCANDINAVIAN R5B, Section 3: Vikings and Varying Genders: Researching Old Norse Literature

MWF 8-9 , 134 Dwinelle. Instructor: Adam Carl

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

Don’t look for princesses in tall towers here; the Old Norse sagas prefer depictions of intelligent, foreseeing, weapon-wielding women. Not all depictions are endorsements (unfortunately), and this R5B course will attempt to examine the nuances of gendered interactions in the texts using the large body of saga scholarship. The pagan-intoned literature features extreme homophobia, but with an underlying gender spectrum that feels more familiar to modern Queer Theorists.  As the closest Medieval genre to a modern novel, the saga style captured the imaginations of Romantic poets up to modern day Hollywood screenwriters. If we hope to understand these adaptations, we must first understand the source material.

In this course, we will distinguish primary sources from secondary, scholarly from popular, and define relevant research. With the critical writing background from R5A or R1A (the prerequisite for this course), we can focus on making innovative arguments in two main research papers.

Required reading:
The Sagas of the Icelanders: A Selection. Penguin Press, 2001. 978-0141-000039
The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords (pp 717-722) – 5 pages
or The Tale of Sarcastic-Halli
Gisli Sursson’s Saga
(pp 496-557) — 61 pages
The Saga of the People of Laxardal (pp270-422). –152 pages
Egil’s Saga (pp3-184) — 181 pages
The Saga of the Volsungs. trans. Jesse Byock. 979-0520-232852 — 109 pages
Excerpts from Hervarar Saga, trans. Christopher Tolkien. Found digitally.

A Pocket Style Manual, 7th Edition by Diana Hacker & Nancy Sommers (no earlier than 5th edition, please). 978-0205309023

Other readings will be made available through bCourses, largely secondary material and a short introduction to Old Norse literature by Jesse Byock.

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.