Course Syllabus

Power of Women in the Viking Age

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Semester & Location:

Summer 2024, Session 3 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Literature



Faculty Member:

Lena E. Norrman (current students please use Canvas Inbox)

Program Director:

Andreas Brøgger

Academic support: 


11.35 am - 14.35 pm




Course Description

In this course, we will focus on the representations of women in the Viking World. The idea of strong Viking women will be explored in numerous ways including the question of gender and the sphere in-between male and female, women warriors, and crossdressing as seen in the sagas. The course also examines women weaving female representations of heroic narratives in circulation, i.e. visual poetry, and women as travelers between continents.

Learning Objectives 

  • Develop an understanding of women’s roles in the Viking Age
  • Gain knowledge of Viking Age gender norms and expectations
  • Become familiar with Icelandic sagas and Viking Age storytelling
  • Gain insight into how Viking women constructed a unique legacy in the contemporary world.


Lena E. Norrman Ph.D. in Older Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, 2006. Taught Scandinavian languages, history, and literature at Harvard University, Brown University, and University of Minnesota. Academic Staff at University of Minnesota since 2005. Visiting Faculty at Harvard University, Spring 2009. Faculty representative for UofM´s Intensive Summer Course in Modern Icelandic, In Minneapolis and Reykjavík, 2008-2015: Publications: Viking Women: The Narrative Voice in Woven Tapestires, Cambria Press, 2008, and book chapters, articles, and book reviews.

Required Texts 

Primary Texts

  • The Saga of the Volsungs
  • Laxdaela Saga
  • Gisli Sursson's Saga

Secondary Texts

  • Else Roesdahl: The Vikings.  

Additional secondary readings will be uploaded in Canvas

Approach to Teaching

The Viking Age is an intriguing time period with the lack of written contemporary sources from Scandinavia and Iceland. This course will be a combination of lecture, class and Canvas discussion, and small group work, which leads to short in-class presentations, and depends heavily on active participation on the part of the students. I will start to give the background needed to fully enjoy end understand the texts we will read, and based on that students need to analyze and critically think about the class material. We will also visit some places of interest in Stockholm and outside of Stockholm where we will look at objects that tell us something about the life in the Viking Age.

Expectations of the Students

Students are expected to have read the material for each class. Active participation in discussions is essential for the success of the course. In each session, your contribution includes raising questions in relation to the assigned texts (or other materials) and responding to your peers’ contributions. Preparation for class includes close reading of the text, note taking, and preparing reflective questions/comments. In class discussions, you will be asked to refer to course materials to support your interjections. If you are not comfortable with 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. 

Excursions: Birka, Gamla Uppsala, Storholmen



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



Short Analysis x2


Canvas discussions

In-class presentations



Final Paper/Final Exam



Policy on Late Papers

Late papers will be accepted, but your grade for the paper will be reduced by half a point for each day that it is late.

Use of Laptops or Phones in Class

Students may use laptops or other devices for taking notes or class work. Individual students may be directed to turn off personal electronic devices off if the devices are not being used for class purposes. Email, Facebook and text messages can be checked during the break. If the handling of electronic devices in the classroom becomes a problem, electronic devices 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:

Date Details Due