Week 1 : Historical overview. We explore what is unique about the Sagas as a genre, compare some contrasting views on their origin and examine how the Sagas are related to other works of European Medieval literature.
Week 2 : Manuscripts. We get an overview of the world of Old Norse manuscripts and talk to some experts of Icelandic textual criticism about the extant (and lost) manuscripts of our three main Sagas.
Week 3 : Landscape and Archaeology. We visit a few of the most important historical sites of Iceland and ask how they can add to our understanding of the Sagas.
Week 4 : Saga Characters. We meet some memorable characters from our three main Sagas and look at their careers and conflicts. By contextualizing their biographies we come to understand the functioning of the Medieval Icelandic Commonwealth.
Week 5 : Paganism and Christianity. We ask how traces of Norse Mythology can be interpreted in the Sagas, even if they are written over two hundred years after paganism officially comes to a close in Iceland. We evaluate the impact of Iceland's conversion and how it is described in the Sagas.
Week 6 : The Supernatural. We address the profusion of supernatural elements, the contradiction at the core of the Sagas' presumed realism.