Discover the original stories of Odin, Thor, and Loki; learn about the Nine Worlds and the Tree of Life. Explore the world of ice and fire that ignited the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, William Morris, Richard Wagner, the Brothers Grimm, Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Marvel Comics, and more. We will explore the themes of heroism, the search for wisdom, the magic of words, and the clash of gods and giants. We will also learn about the role of Norse mythology in the Western tradition, the effect of the North on storytellers like Tolkien and Lewis, and the mythopoeic pull of the North. Students will study the dazzling stories and rollicking poetry of the Norse legends from Kevin Crossley-Holland’s The Norse Myths and primary sources such as Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda and the Elder Edda (the latter selections will be provided by the teacher). This course will challenge and stretch students’ imaginations through the practice of careful, close reading, memorization, and short writing assignments. The semester will conclude with a final retelling.
"God is the Lord, of angels, and of men--and of elves." J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories