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Fall 2017
Sep 25, 2017
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ENGL 106 - Heroes and Vikings
“No hero is immortal till he dies.” -W.H. Auden
“Then said Atli, when he got the thrust, “These broad spears are becoming a fashion.” After that he fell forward over the threshold.” -Grettir's Saga ch. 45
“One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a human.” -Goethe


Heroes and Vikings come down to us in the present as exceptional characters--good and bad, violent, wise, fated, driven, flawed, poetic, and fascinating. The nature of heroism in the early medieval period differs in many ways from our current views. This introductory course will focus on early medieval materials from Anglo-Saxon/Old English and Norse prose and poetry, supplemented at times with texts from other early cultures such as the Irish. We will focus on examining heroes male and female and the societal values and costs of heroic warrior societies. Studies may include Beowulf, The Saga of the Volsungs and various Eddic poems related to that hero and dragon story, Norse mythology, the Anglo-Saxon female heroes Judith, Juliana, and Elene (Helena, finder of the True Cross), and a variety of shorter sagas and poems from Icelandic sources. Where useful, we will look at artifacts and the material record to augment our studies, for example, looking at swords to consider their roles and cultural significance. Students should expect to write several response papers and short essays throughout the term and to engage with scholarship and critical conversations about these texts. 

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

English Department

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