Viking Age and later medieval Iceland: Sources [A]

Department of History, School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law


Code 21043

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1

Module description

The overall educational aim of these linked modules is to trace and analyse social and political developments and processes in Iceland from the ninth to the thirteenth century. A wide range of historical sources are used which include various genres of saga narrative supplemented by charters, legal texts and archaeological evidence. The module begins by investigating the way the various sources can be used to understand how Iceland might have been colonised and was perceived to have been colonised by medieval writers. The latter part of the module looks at how saga literature can be read as a source for the operation of various kinds of social and political practices and ideas including: the role of assemblies, the feud and dispute management, outlawry, concepts of gender, gender relations, the functioning of the household, the supernatural, Icelandic identity and concepts of `the other’. Students will be encouraged to evaluate not only the nature of early Icelandic society but the ways in which modern Icelandic and non-Icelandic scholars have approached it and sought to represent it.