Session Title

Teaching the Edda and Sagas in the Undergraduate Classroom: Strategies and Approaches (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Ilse Schweitzer VanDonkelaar

Organizer Affiliation

Grand Valley State Univ.

Presider Name

Rachel S. Anderson

Presider Affiliation

Grand Valley State Univ.

Paper Title 1

Using Tolkien as a Gateway to the Edda and Sagas in the Undergraduate Classroom

Presenter 1 Name

Lee Templeton

Presenter 1 Affiliation

North Carolina Wesleyan College

Paper Title 2

"I advise you, Loddfafnir, to take this council": Teaching College Writing and Research Using the Eddas

Presenter 2 Name

Gregory L. Laing

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Harding Univ.

Paper Title 3

Teaching Germanic Mythology 101

Presenter 3 Name

Johanna Denzin

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Columbia College

Paper Title 4

Material Culture and Norse Mythology

Presenter 4 Name

Ilse Schweitzer VanDonkelaar

Start Date

13-5-2017 1:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 2355

Description

In this session, participants will share their most innovative strategies, approaches, and experiences incorporating the medieval Icelandic Edda and sagas into university-level curricula and coursework. The Poetic and Prose Edda, the most thorough and valuable textual sources for our understanding of Norse myth, are rich with possible teaching applications, from lessons in cosmogony to poetic structure and language. Likewise, the Old Norse sagas recount, in deceptively spare style, the history of the Scandinavian conquest of Iceland and beyond, the fragile creation of a new society, and the omnipresent threat of violence and feud, set against natural and supernatural dangers. Further, these texts are fascinating to students for their appearances in modern popular culture; the omnipresence of Thor, Loki, and company in the various Marvel cinematic (and comic) universes ensures that many of our students arrive in class with a basic understanding of and curiosity about these characters, before they even encounter the haunting poetry of the Edda.

While these texts can spur dynamic and memorable class discussions, medievalists in traditional academic departments may not have regular opportunities to incorporate the Icelandic material into our syllabi (in a conventional English department, for example, the required curriculum may include historical surveys of British and American literature, with texts originating outside of these geographical areas only taught in “special topics” courses). Further, as more medievalists find ourselves teaching further afield from our areas of expertise, we may be responsible for creating and covering courses in rhetoric and composition, or introductory courses in literature, history, and humanities, without much opportunity to offer a specific course in Icelandic literature, history, or culture. Even so, the Edda and sagas can be made integral to broader courses in English and European literature or history, as well as classes in linguistics and translation, art history, comparative literatures, and other interdisciplinary courses.

Presenters may address such topics as how they have used the Edda and/or sagas in “conventional” literature courses, special topics classes, and surveys of medieval literature (which texts they have chosen to teach, and why); how these texts can be used to teach rhetoric and composition; which texts might be incorporated into an Old Norse translation course; how much historical, cultural, and legal background may be necessary in order to properly contextualize a saga for an undergraduate audience; how we can help our students to navigate the challenging linguistic and stylistic aspects of these texts; how texts can be taught in a mythology, history, or sociological course to reflect how a society defines and understands itself; how teaching the Edda and sagas offer opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and research; how instructors have brought pop culture incarnations of these texts into coursework. Participants are encouraged to share assignments, syllabi, reading lists, resources, and activities with the panel and with our audience.

-- Ilse VanDonkelaar

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May 13th, 1:30 PM

Teaching the Edda and Sagas in the Undergraduate Classroom: Strategies and Approaches (A Roundtable)

Schneider 2355

In this session, participants will share their most innovative strategies, approaches, and experiences incorporating the medieval Icelandic Edda and sagas into university-level curricula and coursework. The Poetic and Prose Edda, the most thorough and valuable textual sources for our understanding of Norse myth, are rich with possible teaching applications, from lessons in cosmogony to poetic structure and language. Likewise, the Old Norse sagas recount, in deceptively spare style, the history of the Scandinavian conquest of Iceland and beyond, the fragile creation of a new society, and the omnipresent threat of violence and feud, set against natural and supernatural dangers. Further, these texts are fascinating to students for their appearances in modern popular culture; the omnipresence of Thor, Loki, and company in the various Marvel cinematic (and comic) universes ensures that many of our students arrive in class with a basic understanding of and curiosity about these characters, before they even encounter the haunting poetry of the Edda.

While these texts can spur dynamic and memorable class discussions, medievalists in traditional academic departments may not have regular opportunities to incorporate the Icelandic material into our syllabi (in a conventional English department, for example, the required curriculum may include historical surveys of British and American literature, with texts originating outside of these geographical areas only taught in “special topics” courses). Further, as more medievalists find ourselves teaching further afield from our areas of expertise, we may be responsible for creating and covering courses in rhetoric and composition, or introductory courses in literature, history, and humanities, without much opportunity to offer a specific course in Icelandic literature, history, or culture. Even so, the Edda and sagas can be made integral to broader courses in English and European literature or history, as well as classes in linguistics and translation, art history, comparative literatures, and other interdisciplinary courses.

Presenters may address such topics as how they have used the Edda and/or sagas in “conventional” literature courses, special topics classes, and surveys of medieval literature (which texts they have chosen to teach, and why); how these texts can be used to teach rhetoric and composition; which texts might be incorporated into an Old Norse translation course; how much historical, cultural, and legal background may be necessary in order to properly contextualize a saga for an undergraduate audience; how we can help our students to navigate the challenging linguistic and stylistic aspects of these texts; how texts can be taught in a mythology, history, or sociological course to reflect how a society defines and understands itself; how teaching the Edda and sagas offer opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and research; how instructors have brought pop culture incarnations of these texts into coursework. Participants are encouraged to share assignments, syllabi, reading lists, resources, and activities with the panel and with our audience.

-- Ilse VanDonkelaar