L&S Breadth: Arts & Literature
The literature of medieval Scandinavia is filled with elements of what we would call the “supernatural”: the walking dead, giants and trolls, sorcery, and even Christian miracles. In this class we will explore the function of the supernatural in Icelandic literature and society. Using primary source materials in English, as well as modern scholarly writings on the fantastic, we will investigate the following questions: were supernatural phenomena believed to be true? Is it possible for us to tell? If they were not viewed as true, what role(s) did these elements play? What do they tell us about the medieval Scandinavian worldview, and how they understood the “human” and the “normal”? How did later developments in science and technology affect our worldview, and our ability to understand dramatically different cultures? In this class we will learn about the culture of medieval Scandinavia as well as various scholarly approaches to the question of the “supernatural.” Students will develop critical and analytical skills through readings, class discussion, and independent research.
Texts: Course reader
Prerequisites: None. The course and readings are in English.