kuniklos (kuniklos) wrote in viking_research,

Looking for a Beginners Guide and Grad Schools

I'm a junior anthropology/archaeology and art history major. I have been struggling to find my nook in my field for some time. I need to get my reading in order before I make my final choices for grad school. I've always had a great interest in northern medieval archaeology and decided I need to read up more on viking history and culture.

I'm terribly new with the subject outside of mythology. Can anyone recommend some books on viking history, culture or anything to get a newbie started? I would appreciate it.

Feel free to add any of your favorites to the list too for me to check out!

Also if there are any U.S. universities that you know of with a graduate program with any specialists in viking culture I would adore you if you listed them. I'm only aware of two at the University of Buffalo and CUNY.

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Jesse Byock has several books available; I find him pretty readable and well-researched (and not too expensive via amazon secondary sellers). If you want info on the women of the period, Jenny Jochens has Women In Old Norse Society.

Also, if you have the mythology but haven't touched the sagas, run out and get Sagas of the Icelanders by Robert Kellogg and Jane Smiley. My favorite is Gisla Saga. (Get the movie Utlaggin via interlibrary loan if you can after you've read the saga - see my icon.)
I will look them up, thank you for the suggestions! And a new movie to add to my collection is always a good thing as well.
I went to UC Berkeley for a degree in Scandinavian Studies. It's where Dr. John Lindow teaches Scandinavian history, mythology, and folklore. It's a WONDERFUL department and they can always use more grad students!

Harvard has a program. U of Wisconsin, Madison. And I think Indiana U in Bloomington. Oh, and University of Washington.

Be aware that you may need competency in at least one Scandinavian language for many of these programs. I know that's the case for Berkeley, Wisconsin and Washington.
Oh yes the nasty language requirement. Sadly my college lacks anything outside the realm of Spanish, French and Chinese, but once I figure out exactly what language I need I may take a year off and go back to school just for that. Or study abroad, not sure which.

I will certainly check it out! Scandinavian Studies sounds really great, although I'm not sure I would even be accepted (I'm on the Dean's List but not a 4.0 student, ick). If I can meld that with archaeology I'd be set. Thanks for the list, I will certainly go digging about with them. :)
Sometimes they'll let you take the language while you're doing your grad work. It just depends on your relationship with the profs. Don't worry about not being a 4.0 student. Your writing/essays mean more to them than a 4.0.

The Scandinavian department at Berkeley, I do know, has a very good relationship with the Anthropology department since many grad students either do Folklore (an Anthro grad program) or archeology combined with a language department. One of the readers for Dr. Lindow my first year at Cal was a Folklore grad student. She was awesome.

And I totally understand. I would love to be an Arctic archeologist specializing in Finno-Scandic cultures. Have fun researching!
As to which language you *need*, if you want to do Viking stuff, I recommend Norwegian, Icelandic, or Old Norse/Icelandic. Unless you want to focus further east, then I'd do Swedish or Danish. Berkeley, Wisconsin, and Indiana also offer Finnish (my language).
I actually bothered my advisor today and she got me into a German class for the semester. It's not quite what I need, but I am going to work with what is available for now.
Yeah! German is great, too. That was the other language Dr. Lindow's reader had done for Folklore.
For Viking studies, the two most helpful languages are German and then Swedish, because that's where a lot of the scholarship has been done, and thus the books you will really want to read. My third choice is Latin, to enable you to read sources such as Tacitus and the various Church documents/vitae.

German though, is out in front by a LONG shot. There is so much research that has been done and published in German. Plus, as a bonus, if your German is good, learning Old Icelandic or any of the modern Scandinavian languages is much easier.
There is always the appeal of being able to say that you are taking Beginning Finnish.

If you plan time abroad, perhaps find a job in Norway or Sweden. A lot of folks there speak some english, so you likely can get by while you are working, and you may be able to find work in something related -- perhaps a very low paid position at a museum, or 'reconstructed Viking village' etc. Simply plan on a persona of someone who has been taken slave from some foreign land.
Check out the excavation of the harbor at Fröjel. The summer archaeology program might be a really nice learning experience for you, and they have an internet-based class or two now.
That is amazing! I've just dropped my Spain field school to find something more in this field. I will definitely look into it. Thanks a million!
This is one of my favorite overview-type books...

A History of the Vikings by Gwyn Jones is so far the best resource I have come across for the Vikings. Also a book called Viking Weapons & Warfare by Kim J Siddorn is pretty good.
I personally hated Jones. Was a great source but a horrible read I thought. Peter Sawyer has quite a few books, but my favorite for Christianseens Norseman in the Viking Age. or something like that.

I just picked up The Far Traveler, but haven't started it yet...
The Far Traveler is a great book. However, she has a certain slant going into the writing of the book and she is very honest about how it affects what she writes. With that in mind, I would not consider it a purely scholarly book but it is so good to read something written by someone who is truly excited about icelandic history that I loved it anyway.