Course Syllabus

World of Vikings:

Facts, Fiction and Fantasy

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Semester & Location:

Summer 2019, Session 3 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 4 credits

Study Tour:

York & Isle of Man

Major Disciplines:

History, Literature

Faculty Member:

Janis Granger

Academic Coordinator:

Tina Mangieri -


Monday through Friday 



Instructor: Janis Granger

Ph.D. in Scandinavian Literature and Languages, U.C. Berkeley, 1982. Taught Scandinavian languages and literature at U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, Univ. of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Madison and at DIS. Academic Counselor and faculty member at DIS since 1984; Full time faculty member since 2011. Visiting Faculty DIS Stockholm, Fall 2016, 2017, Summer 2018 and 2019. Teaches courses on Hans Christian Andersen, Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Nordic Noir and The Vikings. Edited books on Scandinavian literature, reviews books for “Scandinavian Studies” and “Scandinavia.”

Tel. + 45 28 19 66 92


Office hours: By appointment, available before and after class.

Description of Course

This is a lecture and discussion course on the world of the Vikings - past and present. First, we will study the history, religion and worldview of these pre-Christians as reflected in medieval texts and poems from the Viking Age (approx. AD 800-1100). We will examine the origins of the Viking world, its society and culture along with its religion and mythology. In the second part of the course, we will look at the reasons for Viking expansion, trade and Vikings settlements – especially to the British Isles. We will read an Icelandic family saga in preparation for our study tour. Finally, we will examine how Vikings and Viking lore are echoed in popular culture of fiction and fantasy of today. There will be field study visits to the Viking exhibit at Historiska museum, an all day trip to Old Uppsala and a concluding event to the island of Birka, trading town of the Vikings. In addition to lectures, discussions and group work, class time will include the viewing of films about or influenced by the Vikings.


Learning Objectives of the Course

  • Develop an understanding of the Viking Age and its legacy in the history, literature and landscape of Scandinavia.
  • Provide insight into the social and cultural world of the Vikings.
  • Provide knowledge of Viking Age religion and culture.
  • Familiarize students with two Icelandic sagas and literature.
  • Demonstrate the influence of the Viking Age in popular culture today.

Required Texts

Byock, Jesse L. The Saga of the Volsungs, University of California Press, 1990.

Hermann Pálsson & Paul Edwards, trans. Egil’s Saga, Penguin Books. 1960.

H.R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books, London, 1990.

Roesdahl, Else, The Vikings, Penguin Books, third edition, 2016.

Snorri Sturlusson. The Prose Edda. Trans. Jean I Young, University of California Press, 1954.

The Poetic Edda, Carolyne Larrington, trans. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Articles posted on Canvas.


In order to receive a passing grade, you must complete all the assignments.



Engagement (class & tour participation)  


Take-Home Test


Reflection Papers (2 papers, 10% each)


Final Paper



“Engagement” is your responsibility. It is up to you what grade you receive in this area. Consider how often you discuss, comment or ask questions in class; how many absences you have during the course, how often you complete all the readings for class; how often you check your phone or social media or other non-class related media during a single class meeting, on field studies and on the study tour.

Reflection Papers

Two reflection papers (worth 10% each for a total of 20% of your grade.) Each paper should be 2 to 3 pages, approx. 350 words per page, double-spaced, 12 font). Topics and more details will be given in class. The first paper is due on Friday, July 12 and the second due on Monday, July 22.

Take-Home Test

The test will be made available on July 23. It will contain identifications of terms and concepts, historical background, short answer questions and one essay question. The test is open-book and must be turned in (hard copy) in class on Thursday, July 25.

Final Paper

The paper is due on the last day of class, July 31.

This paper should be an academic research paper and should be 5-6 pages in length. The paper must highlight/discuss/analyze items, opinions, texts, or events that you find, for reasons you explain, central to the study of the world of the Vikings – past or present. You must include one observation from our study tour to York & Isle of Man, where relevant, and ONE OUTSIDE SCHOLARALY source.

The assignment should have a title, be double-spaced, 12 font with approximately 350 words per page.

Students may refer to “The MLA Handbook,” “The Chicago Style Manual” or a writing manual from their home universities. Just be consistent when using citations, footnoting, etc.

Your paper should follow this structure:

  1. Introduction: presentation of the topic to be investigated and a brief overview of what you will be doing in your analysis along with comments on the methodology (comparative, exploring a specific theme, use of a specific theory)
  2. Short description and/or summary of text(s) to be explored
  3. Analysis: comments, discussions, comparisons
  4. Summary and conclusion
  5. Notes and bibliography


Students are expected to have read the materials for each class and actively participate in discussions. Students should come prepared to class with questions and points for discussion. When posing questions or participating in discussions, students should, as much as possible, refer to the readings to support the points they are making. If you are shy about speaking up in class, you are welcome to email me your questions or ideas for class discussions.  On the study tour, students are expected to be on time, to show respect for presenters and peers and actively observe and participate.

Approach to Teaching

I am enthusiastic about the Vikings. I bring this enthusiasm to my teaching.  I will start out with some background lectures. However, for the most part, the class will be based on analysis of the readings, in-class group discussions and class discussions. I hope my enthusiasm is catching so you all actively participate in our learning experience.

Classroom Policies

Students are expected to be on time to class. Since this is an intensive 4-credit course, students must attend all classes (unless there is a documented illness or other documented excuse). No eating in class. Of course, you may bring water, coffee, tea, etc. Wait for our break to eat lunch, please.

Laptops may be used for note taking. Please wait until the breaks, or time before and after class, to check email, Facebook and check and send text messages. If surfing the internet or text messaging becomes a problem, laptops and cell phones will be banned from the classroom.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

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