SCAN4401 - Old Norse 2

Value: 0.5 course units
Dr Erin Goeres
Teaching structure:
one unseen three-hour written examination (70%) and one 2500-word essay (30%).

Module Description:

This module forms the logical continuation of Old Norse I and will combine advanced translation with the in-depth analysis of three set texts. The first term will focus on Egils saga and its place within the wider context of the Íslendingasögur, konungasögur and skáldasögur. The second term will focus on the poem Hákonarmál and on the ‘Conversion Verses’ of Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld, set within the context of Scandinavia’s conversion to Christianity.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

Reading lists will be provided for the individual texts, but students are strongly advised to read the entirety of Egils saga in translation (available in Penguin Classics, The Complete Sagas of Icelanders or similar) before the start of term. The primary text that will be used for translation will be Bjarni Einarsson’s edition, Egils saga (London, 2003),

Students may also find it useful to read any of the Sagas of Warrior-Poets, ed. Diana Whaley (London, 2002), especially Hallfreðar saga. Photocopies of the other set texts will be provided.

A useful introduction to Egils saga may be found in any of the following:

  • Jesse Byock, ‘Social Memory and the Sagas: the Case of Egils saga’, Scandinavian Studies 76:3 (2004), pp. 299-316
  • Margaret Clunies Ross, ‘The Art of Poetry and the Figure of the Poet in Egils saga’, in Sagas of the Icelanders: A Book of Essays, ed. John Tucker (New York, 1989), pp. 126-45
  • William Sayers, ‘Poetry and Social Agency in Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar’, Scripta Islandica (1996), pp. 29-62
  • John Hines and Desmond Slay, ed., Introductory Essays on Egils saga and Njáls saga (London, 1992)

Useful reference works:

  • Carol J. Clover and John Lindow, ed., Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Critical Guide (Ithaca, NY, 2005)
  • Rory McTurk, ed., A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture (Oxford, 2005)
  • Philip Pulsiano et al, ed., Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia (London, 1993).