Icelandic and Old Norse Literature, Myths & Sagas


No prior knowledge of Icelandic is required. This is not a dedicated Icelandic language course, but a historical and literary study on Icelandic and Old Norse culture and mythology where some Icelandic passages are read.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to Iceland’s rich, ancient literary history. A careful reading of The Poetic Edda—the source material that describes Odin, Thor, Freya, giants, trolls, Valkyries, heroes, and the Viking Age conceptions of the world. Students will encounter first-hand the epic stories that have inspired Wagner, Tölkien, Borges, Auden, and of course, Marvel. Class discussions will delve into the knotted dramas and linguistic quirks of this masterpiece, leaving students with a firm grasp on the structure of the Viking universe.

A close reading of Egil’s Saga will introduce us to the paradoxical elements of the humans that inhabited this epoch. Despite being a killer, scoundrel and drunk, Egil is one of the most famous Saga “heroes”—A poet and lawyer with much to teach us of the old Icelandic personality. Supplementary material will also be read, explaining allusions in the primary texts and demonstrating their continued relevance today. Readings will be done in English translation, though students should expect to learn key Icelandic words and expressions.

We will also have a Translator’s Chat and Q+A with Jeramy Dodds, translator of The Poetic Edda, where we can pick his brain about the challenges and rewards of dealing with Old Icelandic!


This course is not available at this time. Stay tuned for future classes!


Our classes take place at a central location in Toronto, Ontario Canada near public transportation (normally by a TTC subway or streetcar). Information about classroom location will be sent to registered and paid students prior to the start of class through e-mail.

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