Sunday, January 25, 2009

What's Cool about the Saga of the Volsungs?

I've never taught The Saga of the Volsungs, nor did I study it as a student. I'll be teaching it beginning tomorrow, on the undergraduate level, for about two weeks.

As I've been putting my lectures together, there's one thing I've been missing: I don't have a sense of what's cool about the Saga of the Volsungs.

That isn't entirely true, of course. I know what's cool to me -- but then again, I'm a medieval literature professor. What I think is cool and what students think is cool are often two entirely different things.

So, a question for you. If you are someone who has taught the Volsungs, what did you find the students responded to? Was there something that surprised you about their reaction?

And if you're a normal, well-adjusted person (not the kind of person who'd spend his days teaching sagas), what did you find interesting about the Saga? Was there a moment when you were reading it that you thought, "Huh. I wish I knew more about that?" Or perhaps you studied it in a class -- what things did you learn in lectures that fascinated you?

I love teaching something new. I always learn ten times more than the students.

Image of Odin vandalizing the Branstock tree by sticking a sword in it. Note to self: Don't invite Odin over in December when my Christmas tree is up.


  1. Anonymous9:56 PM

    So far in my reading:

    Odin's random appearances
    the sword in the tree
    the 6 year pregnancy
    The societies utter disregard for thralls and children
    King Volsung being awesome

    Signy's sudden desire for incest with Sigmund

  2. The women! If you mess with them they will cut you!

    No I am not a crazy person! READ THE WOMEN

    [I did an essay on this and am a bit obsessed.]

    Other things that are neat include the complex sibling relationship between Signy and Sigmund and the gradual shift (in the saga not the poems) from an older, more raw setting to one resembling a French tale. Thing.

  3. A few months behind on my comment, but I was just googling women and the saga of the volsungs.

    I'm an undergrad studying literature and writing (although you cannot tell from my lack of capital letters in this comment, i'm feeling rebellious). I am writing a short paper about the "real" life of a Viking wife, as opposed to the fictional women in the Saga and in Snorri's Edda.

    You ask what interests an undergrad... the feminist perspective, marriage, reality vs. fiction, and all that sort of thing.

    Now that I found your blog, I will make sure to stop back in sometime. Good topics!

  4. It's perfect teaching to the students different and new things and I think that's the best opportunity to do it, because it's something creative, besides Image of Odin vandalizing the Branstock tree by sticking a sword in it is simply perfect.m10m