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010103 VU An Introduction to Old Norse Myths and Religions (2017W)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 1 - Katholische Theologie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: English



MO 11.12.2017 09:00-13:00 Hörsaal 2 ETF, 5. Stock, Schenkenstraße 8-10
DI 12.12.2017 09:00-13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
MI 13.12.2017 09:00-13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
DO 14.12.2017 09:00-13:00 Seminarraum 1 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
FR 15.12.2017 09:00-13:00 Seminarraum 1 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG


Aims, contents and method of the course

The aim is to introduce students to some of the sources for early Scandinavian myth and religion and methods for interpreting them.
Students will:
• acquire knowledge of Old Norse mythology and cosmology, including the main gods, beings and events, such as the creation of the world and its ending (ragnarök);
• acquire knowledge of the main textual sources for Old Norse myth and be able to discuss their value and limitations as sources for pre-Christian belief;
• acquire knowledge of other sources, including material objects, indicating belief and ritual practice, and discuss their interpretation;
• acquire an understanding of the variability of Scandinavian pre-Christian beliefs and practices, including geographical, temporal and social differences, and of the processes of conversion to Christianity.

An introduction to the vivid and lively sources for Old Norse myth, which exist in their fullest form in texts written down by Christian authors and scribes in the thirteenth century. The main focus will be on analysing and interpreting the mythological texts and critiquing their source value for understanding pre-Christian beliefs and practices, but the course will also look at other evidence, including archaeological finds and landscape evidence, to explore how scholars piece together understanding of pre-textual religions. How, when and why the pantheon of Norse gods came to be replaced by Christianity will also be discussed.

There will be interactive lectures and in-class discussions with visual and textual material in translation.

Assessment and permitted materials

Assessment and permitted materials

Class participation (20%)
Essay of 3.500 words (80%)
Academic books, academic articles, encyclopedias, internet sources (Wikipedia is not allowed).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

A good command of English: the language of instruction and discussion is English. No knowledge of Old Norse or the modern Scandinavian languages is required. Students must be willing to participate in class discussion.
Class participation and attendance (20%); essay 3,500 words (80%).

Examination topics

Lecture/class discussion content; source readings; critical approach and personal insight.

Reading list

Background reading:
(1) Larrington, Carolyne (trans.) 2014. The Poetic Edda. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(2) Faulkes, Anthony (trans.) 1987. Snorri Sturluson: Edda. London: Everyman.
(3) Simek, Rudolf. 2008. A Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.
(4) Brink, Stefan. 2007. ‘How Uniform was the Old Norse Religion?’ In Learning and Understanding in the Old Norse World: Essays in Honour of Margaret Clunies Ross, ed. Judy Quinn, Kate Heslop and Tarrin Wills. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 105-136.
(5) Hultgård, Anders et al. 2008. ‘Pre-Christian Religion and Belief’. In The Viking World, ed. Stefan Brink with Neil Price. London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 212-273.
(6) Raudvere, Helena Catharina, Anders Andrén and Kristina Jennbert (eds). 2006. Old Norse religion in Long-term Perspectives : Origins, Changes and Interactions. Lund: Nordic Academic Press / Svenska historiska media AB.

Required reading and class material (short extracts) will be made available to students.

Association in the course directory

066 800 M 2, M 15 oder M 18

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:27