Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Dr. Carl Anderson

Signum MA FacultySPACE Preceptor

Carl Edlund Anderson holds an A.B. in Folklore & Mythology from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from the Faculty of English (Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, & Celtic) at the University of Cambridge, with studies focused on Medieval and Pre-Medieval Scandinavia, as well as a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) from the British Council in Bogotá, Colombia. [see full bio...]

Current and Upcoming Modules

All Modules

Advanced Old Norse Readings Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

This series will help introduce students to the breadth and depth of Old Norse texts available for study. Each month, Dr. Anderson surveys the group using the Old Norse survey form to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

Some of the texts we could explore in a given month include:
Vǫlsunga Saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs”)
• The excerpted short texts in Jesse Byock’s Viking Language 2 (which can both be ordered from Amazon, etc.)
• The other short but complete texts in Byock’s saga series: The Tale of Thorstein Staff-struck and/or Saga of the People of Weapon’s Fjord (which can both be ordered from Amazon, etc.)
• Njáls saga. (There is a modernized Icelandic text online.)
• Laxdœla saga. (There is a modernized Icelandic text online.)
• Egil’s saga. (A free PDF of a good edition is available from the Viking Society.)
• The Prose Edda, or portions thereof (Free PDFs are available from the Viking Society.)
• Something from the legendary sagas (besides Vǫlsunga saga), e.g.:
--- Hrólfs saga kraka. (There is a modernized Icelandic text online.)
--- Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks (A free PDF of C. Tolkien’s edition/translation is available from the Viking Society.)
--- Ragnars saga loðbrókar (Olsen’s 1908 edition is available as a PDF online.)
• Something form the chivalric and/or Arthurian sagas (various texts online or in print).
• Eddic poetry (various texts are available online).
• Faroese ballads of the Vǫlsungs (not technically “Old Norse”, but the 19th-century editions are available online).

But there are many other possibilities!

Advanced Old Norse: Volsunga Saga Series

(Note: This module can be joined in any month.)

Vǫlsunga saga (“The Saga of the Vǫlsungs”) is a medieval Icelandic retelling of one of the best-known legendary cycles of the pre-modern Germanic-speaking world – stories that influenced the operas of Richard Wagner, the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, and many other modern creative artists. In this module, we will continue to translate the Vǫlsunga saga and discuss both the language and how the saga’s version of the legends relate to other versions known from the medieval world.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún

Love, power, betrayal, death; the occasional dragon and cursed ring. All these are to be found in the legends of the Vǫlsungs and Niflungs, amongst the most popular and abiding legends of the medieval Germanic-speaking and Norse worlds. J.R.R. Tolkien reworked these into two poems in Modern English patterned after the alliterative style of Old Norse poems. In this module, we read Tolkien’s poems and their accompanying commentary to see how Tolkien wrought his own retelling of these ancient tales, and we’ll trace the connections across from the original medieval legends through Tolkien’s retelling to his original works of fantasy set in Middle-earth.

Old Norse 1

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.

Old Norse 2

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.

Old Norse 3

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.

Old Norse 4

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.

Old Norse 5

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.

Old Norse 6

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.

Old Norse Sagas in Translation: Njál’s Saga

Mixed Lecture/Discussion Format
Situated on the margins of the medieval world, Iceland was remarkable for developing the largest secular literature in Europe – and Njál’s Saga is the longest, as well as probably the most famous and most artistically acclaimed, of the medieval Sagas of Icelanders. Probably written originally in the later 13th century, Njál’s Saga looks back to feuds of the later Viking Age, in the 10th and 11th centuries and presents much that is characteristic of the Sagas of Icelanders generally: a multitude of clearly drawn and memorable figures (both male and female); clever dialogue, full of dark humor and memorable phrases; great fighters and great fights; bad guys who nevertheless show us some redeeming traits, (however slight); and good guys with their own flaws and shortcomings (often fatal).

The module will follow an 8-session structure as follows:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Lecture 1: Introduction to “Njál’s Saga” and its medieval Icelandic context; overview of “Hrut’s Saga” (chapters 1-18 of “Njál’s Saga”).
Discussion 1: Comments on and questions about the medieval Icelandic context of “Njál’s Saga” and the content of Hrut’s Saga” (chapters 1-18 of “Njál’s Saga”).

Lecture 2: Overview of “Gunnar’s Saga” (chapters 19-81 of “Njál’s Saga”).
Discussion 2: Comments on and questions about “Gunnar’s Saga” (chapters 19-81 of “Njál’s Saga”).

Lecture 3: Overview of “Njál’s Saga ‘proper’” (chapters 82-132 of “Njál’s Saga”).
Discussion 3: Comments on and questions about “Njál’s Saga ‘proper’” (chapters 82-132 of “Njál’s Saga”).

Lecture 4: Overview of “Flosi’s and Kari’s Saga” (chapters 133-159 of “Njál’s Saga”).
Discussion 4: Comments on and questions about “Flosi’s and Kari’s Saga” (chapters 133-159 of “Njál’s Saga”).
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Note: We wanted students to be aware that this module may contain violent, graphic, and/or other potentially disturbing material.

Old Norse Sagas in Translation: Sagas of Heroic Legend

(Note: This module explores these texts in English, so no experience in Old Norse is necessary.)

Somewhere between the historical and the fantastic are the traditions of heroic legend, telling of extraordinary men and women whose triumphs and tragedies are writ larger than those of everyday life. In medieval Scandinavia, sagas of heroic legend such as The Saga of the Volsungs, The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, and The Saga of Hervor and King Heidrek retold already ancient stories in the new prose styles of the Middle Ages. Bravery and knavery; loyalty and treachery; magic and the mundane, horror and hope; these tales’ themes have enthralled audiences for more than a thousand years and played an outsized role in the birth of modern fantasy literature.

Old Norse Series

This series of modules introduces you to the vocabulary and grammar of Old Norse, preparing you to read medieval sagas, eddic poetry, and even Viking-Age runic inscriptions. Each one-month module builds on the previous one, so students ready to learn Old Norse will communicate with our Director and Professor Anderson to choose the right placement for everyone.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].