Scandinavian 5251

The Icelandic Saga

Professor Kaplan

This course introduces students to the medieval literature of Iceland: the Sagas. We’ll read examples of the so-called “classical” sagas set in 10th- and 11th-century Iceland and Norway, which are full of blood feud, questionable legal tactics, and pithy dialogue. We’ll also engage with lesser-read narratives set in fantastical lands and alternate-history versions of Europe. (Islamic Germany, anyone?) We will learn about medieval Iceland, a unique society on the edge of Europe that was also interested in and connected to the wider world beyond the Nordic area. Most importantly, students will learn how to analyse, interpret, and enjoy saga prose, wherein can be found some of the noblest heroes, fiercest monsters, and most imperious and powerful women ever to grace the page.

There are no prerequisites. GE course. Taught in English.

Textbooks: (tentative)

Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, law, and Society in Saga Iceland
William Ian Miller; ISBN: 9780226526805

Gisli Sursson's Saga and The Saga of the People of Eyri
Martin Regal (Translator), Judy Quinn (Translator); ISBN: 9780140447729

Egil's Saga
Anonymus, Bernard Scudder (Translator); ISBN: 9780140447705

The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason's Tale
Anonymus, Keneva Kunz (Translator), Bergljot S Kristjansdottir (Editor); ISBN: 9780140447750



If you need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should contact your instructor to arrange an appointment as soon as possible. At the appointment, we can discuss the course format, anticipate your needs and explore potential accommodations. We rely on the Office for Disability Services for assistance in verifying the need for accommodations and developing accommodation strategies. If you have not previously contacted the Office for Disability Services, we encourage you to do so.