Norse Myths and Sagas

Norse Myths and Sagas

This course provides an introduction to the myths and sagas of medieval Scandinavia.

START:
August 28, 2017
DURATION:
12 weeks
ID:
LITC 5304
CREDIT:
3

This course provides an introduction to the myths and sagas of medieval Scandinavia. It examines the roots of this literature in the meeting of indigenous mythological and legendary traditions with the textual culture of medieval Christian Europe and the development the prose sagas of Norse kings and Icelanders. The course focuses on readings from authentic texts in translation but also discusses the wider cultural and historical context, including consideration of echoes from the medieval Norse literary tradition in modern culture and fiction.

Weekly Schedule

This course includes two live 90-minute lectures per week with one 60-minute discussion session as assigned. Weekly outline, readings, and assignments subject to change in the final syllabus.

Week 1

  • Course Introduction; Scandinavia in the First Millennium AD
  • Sources for Norse Mythology: The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda

Week 2

  • Norse Cosmology I: The Beginning of the World
  • Norse Cosmology II: The End of the World

Week 3

  • Tales of the Gods in Norse Mythology (with a focus on Mighty Thor)
  • The Style of Eddic Poetry in “Thrym’s Poem” (with guest lecturer Dr. Nelson Goering)

Week 4

  • Myth and Legend: The Development of the Volsung Legends
  • The Style of Eddic Poetry in “A Short Poem about Sigurd” (with guest lecturer Dr. Nelson Goering)

Week 5

  • From Poetry to Saga: The Saga of the Volsungs
  • Heroic Legend and the Development of Saga Literature

Week 6

  • Iceland from the Settlement to the End of the Commonwealth
  • Saints and Kings, Personalities and Politics: the Development of the Kings’ Sagas and their Place in the Development of Saga Literature

Week 7

  • Overview of the Saga of Harald “Hard-ruler” Sigurðarson
  • Icelanders and Kings: The Story of Audun

Week 8

  • Overview of Egil’s Saga (Part I)
  • Overview of Egil’s Saga (Part II)

Week 9

  • Stylistics and Authorship of Egil’s Saga (with guest lecturer Dr. Paul Peterson)
  • From Outside to Inside: Egil’s Saga in the Development of Saga Literature

Week 10

  • Overview of Gisli Sursson’s Saga
  • All in the Family: Gisli Sursson’s Saga in the Development of Saga Literature

Week 11

  • Overview of Laxdœla Saga (Part I)
  • Overview of Laxdœla Saga (Part II)

Week 12

  • Laxdœla Saga: From a Golden Age to a Pewter Age
  • On Beyond Laxdale: Further Developments in Saga Literature, the Afterlife of the Sagas, and Course Wrap-Up

Required Texts

Students may use the print, e-book, or free online texts for all required texts. The print and e-book translations linked first are preferred, but free online alternatives are also acceptable. Further required and suggested readings will be provided by the course instructors in the final syllabus.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Norse Myths and Sagas Offerings
SemesterPreceptor(s)
Fall 2017Dr. Carl Anderson