University of Washington
Department of Scandinavian Studies

The Vikings: A History

(SCAND 370 / HSTAM 370)

(VLPA / I&S)

Spring Quarter, 2014
Time: 11:30 am - 12:20 pm
Room: Sieg Hall (SIG) 134
VLPA and I&S
(5 credits)

Professor: Dr. Terje Leiren
Office:: 305U Raitt Hall
Telephone: (206) 543-7233
E-mail: leiren@uw.edu
Office hours: M 10:00-11:00
and by appointment.

Teaching Assistant: Petur Valsson
Office: 108B Raitt Hall
E-mail: peturv@uw.edu
Office Hours:



Course Content



This is a lecture/discussion course on the history of the Vikings. Following a largely chronoglogical dwquence, but not rigidly bound by it, the class will examine the history of Scandinavia during the Viking Age (approx. AD 800 - AD 1100) through the written and archeological records.

The first half of the course will focus on the Vikings at home in Scandinavia. This includes an examination of the origins of Viking society and culture in the pre-historic period, including settlement patterns, the establishment of family farms, and the development of the Viking ship. We will also examine the political, social and cultural expressions of Scandinavian society in the Viking Age, such as commercial expansion, military conflict, and religious expression. The structure and significance of the pre- Christian pagan religion of the Scandinavian North will also be examined in depth.

The second half of the course will focus on Viking expansion and the international contacts established throgh exploration, trading and raiding. We will examine the Viking presence in Russia, Byzantium, France, German, Britain, and follow the western expansion that took the Scandinavian Vikings to the North Atlantic islands of the Faroes, Shetland, Orkney, Iceland, Greenland and, eventually, North America.

Historically, the Vikings have been romanticized by writers and musicians alike. These include German composer Richard Wagner in the 19th century, Hollywood film makers and Black Metal bands in the 20th and 21st centuries. What, if any, is the historical basis for some of these views? Who were these people we call "Vikings" and how did they live? What, for example, were the roles of the family, law, art, and poetry in Viking society? To what extent can we be certain about aspects of Viking society prior to the "Saga period" when the Icelanders wrote their remarkable literature in the 13th century? And, finally, what, if any, lasting influence did Vikings have on European and Western civilization?

In addition to the lectures, class time will include the viewing of documentary videos and films about the Vikings.



Course Requirements


There will be two written exams for this class. The exam format will consist of a combination of objective questions (multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blanks, etc.) and questions requiring written, short-paragraph answers.
  1. The first written exam will cover the lectures and reading assignments from the first half of the quarter.
  2. The second exam will cover the lectures and reading assigments from the second half of the quarter.

Torshammer

Textbooks


Virtual Vikings: Websites and Links


Documents and Texts:

The Anglo- Saxon Chronicle

Snorre Sturlasson's Heimskringla

Life of King Alfred

Dudo of San Quentin's Gesta Normannorum

Njal's Saga: The Story of Burnt Njal

Laxdaela Saga

Grettir's Saga: The Saga of Grettir the Strong

Einhard, Life of Charlemagne

Establishment of the DANELAW: Alfred and Guthrum's Peace (AD 878)

The Invasion of England, 1066 (and the Bayeux Tapestry)

The Full Bayeux Tapestry - Thumbnail images

From Pagan to Christian: The Story in the 12th-Century Tapestry of Skog Church, Halsingland, Sweden


Copyright © 2014 Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3420