Sagas of the Vikings

Course Dates: 20/06/22 - 25/07/22
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
The Norse or Icelandic Sagas might be the greatest literature from the medieval period. They are prose tales, mostly written in medieval Iceland. They concern the histories and myths of Northern Europe. This course looks at some principal tales – about poets, gods, heroes - and farmers with super powers!
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £54.00

Course Code: HLT216

Mon, eve, 20 Jun - 25 Jul '22

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This course introduces you to some key sagas that are good examples of the overall body of saga literature. We will look at the following: Egil’s Saga, about a warrior poet, Njal’s Saga, often considered the finest saga, the Saga of the Volsungs, which was made popular in the Victorian period by William Morris who retold it, and the Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, which has an intriguing relationship with Beowulf. These will be supported by the Poetic Edda, which contains Norse myths, and the Prose Edda by the great poet and politician Snorri Sturluson, which discusses myths and the nature of poetry.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

The relationship between the sagas and other medieval literatures.
The relationship between the prose and the poetry that is sometimes included in the sagas.
Key themes in the stories.
The types of character found in the sagas and how they are treated by the writers.
Some principal events and their relationship to historical events in Iceland and Scandinavia.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Understand a little about the types of character found in the sagas.
Be aware of some principal saga events.
Discriminate between the different categories of the sagas.
Understand the manuscript culture in which the Sagas were written.
Be aware of the history that was interpreted in the sagas.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Although this course focuses on Medieval stories originally written in Old Norse, it is not technical and requires no specific knowledge of linguistics or linguistic terms. All work will be looked at in translation. You will be invited to participate in group discussions.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

By presentation, demonstration, and group discussion. To get the most out of the course there will be some preparation to do between classes, though this is not mandatory.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

All texts we will look at will also be provided in electronic documents by the tutor.

There are many sagas, and books that you could purchase. However, The Sagas of the Icelanders in Penguin Classics is a very useful starting point, as are Njal’s Saga, Egil’s Saga, The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki - all in Penguin Classics. The Prose Edda in Penguin Classics, and The Poetic Edda in Oxford World’s Classics, are great introductions to Viking lore.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other Literary History courses on our website at under history, culture and writing/literature/literary history.

Steven Breeze

Steven teaches medieval literature, including Old and Middle English, Old Norse literature, and modern interpretations of medieval works and the medieval period for the Culture and Humanities department at City Lit. He has taught at City Lit since 2013, and he also has experience teaching in higher education and in secondary schools. Steven completed a PhD at Birkbeck, University of London, in 2018, and has degrees in English and anthropology, a master’s degree in ethnomusicology and a PGCE. He is currently writing a book about performance in Old English poetry, which will be published in 2021 by Boydell and Brewer. In addition to his specialist work in Culture and Humanities, Steven also teaches in the Business and Technology department.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.