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Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age: Global Perspectives

Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Sara Ann Knutson, University of California - Berkeley
Reading & Composition (R&C) is a two-part requirement for undergraduate students in the College of
Letters & Science at the University of California, Berkeley. By the end of their fourth semester, students
are expected to complete two semesters of lower-division writing composition as a practical foundation
for future coursework in their chosen Major. Many incoming freshmen test out of Part A, which covers
the basic principals of academic writing, and will enter the Part B course on research writing. R&C courses
are typically capped at seventeen students in order to ensure that students receive adequate attention
and feedback from the instructor.
In the past, R&C Courses emphasized frequent writing exercises in order to demonstrate the relationship
between writing and thought. In 2011, UC Berkeley faculty redefined and reassessed the standards for
teaching R&C courses from the original 1989 committee report. The new standards recognize the
importance of providing undergraduate students with college-level writing skills, critical reading and
thinking, and incorporating research into writing. The GSI Teaching and Resource Center at Berkeley now
offers a one credit "R&C Pedagogy" course for training graduate students to foster the development of
student writing and critical thinking.
"Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age: Global Perspectives" satisfies Part B of the R&C requirement
and breaks free of traditional methods of writing pedagogy, such as individual writing assignments
completed entirely outside of class and the traditional term paper, as I will elaborate on in the subsequent
section. The course considers the impressive geographic movement and cross-cultural exchanges that
characterized the Viking Age and provides this historical context as a semester-long theme through which
students explore the social and cultural tensions that migration exposes. Students learn to make
compelling arguments as they consider how to unpack the complicated social dynamics that challenged
polytheistic and monotheistic world-views and highlighted incompatible cultural conceptions of center
and periphery, inclusion and exclusion. Racial relations, gender dynamics, and religious and economic
exchanges all operated quite differently in the Viking Age than what we experience today and students
must reevaluate what they think they know about these social categories.
Each department imparts its own disciplinary perspective on R&C courses. Students, regardless of their
intended discipline, may choose from any departmental R&C offering. Following the interdisciplinary
mission of the Scandinavian Studies Department, this course seeks to reinvigorate student interest in the
writing process while engaging the disciplinary tools of the historian and archaeologist. Most students
who take the course do not have a humanities background. The course therefore intends to hone essential
writing and thinking skills by making connections to other disciplines and highlighting the interdisciplinary
applications of writing skills far beyond the course itself (Bean 2011). Is the research process of the
historian who develops an argumentative paper similar to the application of the scientific method in STEM
research projects? The pedagogical principles applied in this course assume so and would further claim
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
that making such interdisciplinary connections facilitates student learning across disciplines, skillsets, and
interests and all the while promoting more effective learning among a diverse group of students.
As a historian and archaeologist, I seek to promote greater collaborative efforts in my field and I encourage
my students to do likewise. Writing, contrary to popular conceptions, need not and should not be a wholly
individual, solitary process but rather one that relies on collaboration and peer review. This course takes
advantage of such interactions to foster a learning environment where students grow comfortable
workshopping their ideas with the instructor as well as sharing their ideas and offering constructive
feedback to their peers.
This 4-credit course is taught during a six-week summer term (nine hours of formal instruction a week)
and covers a fourteen-week semester of material in half of the normative time. The intensive pace
challenges the instructor to balance the course's procedural and conceptual content. With this in mind,
the weekly modules are divided between a fundamental writing topic and a geographic focus on the
historical movement of the Viking-Age Scandinavians. The feedback from previous students of this course
particularly stressed that the clear organization of outlined learning objectives as well as the attention to
skill-building rather than plain memorization of historical dates and events was highly effective for
promoting learning. Under this syllabus structure, students have been impressed with the visible
improvement of their writing within a relatively short time.
The course is designed to teach students skills in academic research writing, informed by the disciplines
of History and Archaeology. The course design assumes that learning takes place through legitimate
participation in a community of practice rather than through the isolated memorization of facts (Lave and
Wenger 1991). As such, the students are incoming participants in the academic writing community, with
its own established protocols and accepted standards of writing and research. My role as the instructor is
to provide students with meaningful experiences that enable them to engage these practices. This
performative model for learning has pedagogical implications for how teachers monitor student
engagement. I define participation in my course syllabus as "a vital component...[that] includes sharing
an idea in class discussions, partaking in peer review and group work, listening respectfully to the
contributions of others, responding to your classmates' ideas with feedback, and preparing discussion
questions or related material for class." This nuanced understanding of student contributions empowers
them to take control of their learning in ways that complement their individual learning styles.
The formal assignments of this writing course include a diagnostic essay, two medium-length papers, and
a final research project. Legitimate writing practices provide the foundation for these assignments,
requiring students to learn to write as part of the academic community. This pedagogical technique
assumes that students learn best when they feel that their engagement on an assignment serves a
practical or authentic purpose, beyond performing the task simply to receive a grade (Curzan and Damour
2006; Fink 2003). When I incorporate specific pedagogical techniques into a class activity, I draw students'
attention to the pedagogical practice and explain the skill-development underlying the activity in order to
further legitimize student learning and participation. For example, in lieu of a traditional term paper,
students are assigned an archaeological report for their capstone research project (see Appendix A).
Leading up to this final assignment, I teach students strategies for analyzing archaeological and textual
evidence in support of their own interpretations of Viking-Age movement. The final assignment then
enables students to reflect on their learning throughout this course and to implement these skills in a real-
world application.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
In addition to writing and revising formal papers, students begin each class with a ten-minute "free write"
and contribute weekly to the course blog. These forums allow students to write short responses to a
prompt in a low-stakes environment with multiple opportunities for learning and feedback before the
evaluation of their formal assignments. The blog enables students to produce legitimate writing that is
not merely another assignment to be completed, but rather an expression of their ideas that is publishable
and shareable. Occasionally students are asked to respond to a classmate's blog post, generating
additional opportunities for students to collaborate or collectively grapple over a challenging prompt.
Drawing from recent trends in pedagogy, this course is considered an intellectual project for both the
teacher and student and therefore is self-conscious of the alignment between the assessment of student
learning and evaluation of effective teaching (Ramsden 2003). I require students to submit a one-page
reflection with each of the formal assignments, in which they assess their own writing progress
throughout the term and identify areas for additional practice (Blumberg 2009; Edmondson et al 2012).
This practice encourages students to develop meta-learning techniques that allow them to reflect on their
personal progress as well as to adapt the course to their personal needs and goals. After each formal
paper, I assign each student "two areas for improvement" to target for the next paper and their personal
improvement on these points will figure into the subsequent paper grade. This method seeks to promote
collaboration between the student and the teacher in assessing the student's learning progress
throughout the term. Students are required to meet with me during office hours in order to receive their
paper grade, which is based on a standardized rubric (see Appendix B). This office-hour requirement
generates opportunities for personalized feedback to students on how their contributions are valuable,
how their skills have developed, and the ways in which they can continue to improve.
Understanding the paramount relationship between student learning and effective teaching, evaluation
in this course also takes the form of anonymous bi-weekly surveys in which students are asked to identify
what information is still unclear, where they would like more practice, and to assess the effectiveness of
my teaching strategies (Prégent 1994). Students write their responses to these questions in the classroom
at the end of the class and I relay the overall trends of their feedback at the beginning of the following
class period. These informal survey questions enable me to address any pressing concerns and adapt the
course to the specific needs of my students before the formal, university-mandated evaluation at the end
of term. During the first iteration of this course, the majority of the students responded that they enjoyed
the free-write activity as a time to collect their thoughts and present them in writing form before the class
discussion. They were concerned, however, that the course was too reading-intensive, even by summer-
term standards. As a result of this informal feedback, I could respond to the students’ concerns early in
the term and appropriately adjust the daily work-load by dividing up the assigned reading and asking
students to present their individual section to the class. In addition, student feedback has motivated me
to review the syllabus with my students on the first day of term and to present the document as an
informal contract, in which the students are encouraged to help me refine the goals of the course based
on their personal goals. I use this opportunity to ask the class to decide collectively how they would like
me to weigh each category that constitutes their final grade (see “Assignments & Grading” section of
syllabus). Students react to this activity with incredulous disbelief and awe every time I teach the course
and they become elated at the prospect of gaining more decision-marking power over their learning. Such
opportunities for providing feedback on my teaching as well as for having a say on how their final grade
is calculated gives students greater control and accountability in their learning experience.
The use of technology in the classroom is intended to intrinsically motivate students to refine their writing
abilities in whatever way is personally interesting and helpful to them. With their unique learning
backgrounds and expectations, students enter undergraduate courses with a range of "mental models"
based on previous learning experiences, which they use to interpret new material (O'Brien et al. 2009).
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
This course incorporates instructional technologies and multimedia (Beetham and Sharpe 2013) to
complement the writing process, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) in order to analyze the over-
usage of certain words or parts of speech and to encourage varying diction and sentence structure.
Students are also introduced to the possibilities of Mind-Mapping and "Word Clouds" for visual
alternatives to the basic outline for brainstorming and structuring papers. For example, in week 3 of the
syllabus, students consider the connections between Word Clouds and NLP software, both of which are
used as in computational text analyses to count or visualize word frequencies. The students are given
opportunities to apply these technologies to their current papers and are asked to reflect on how these
approaches offer new editing strategies that help us to evaluate writing as readers and writers. The use
of instructional technologies such as blogging and online media furthermore creates a natural critical-
learning environment in which I integrate skills and information in ways that will provoke students'
curiosity and challenge them to reexamine their mental models (Bain 2011). Previous students of the
course appreciated the variety of activities that this interdisciplinary and multimedia approach produced
and enjoyed the challenge of “thinking laterally” about the reading material. As one student wrote, “the
course made me enjoy writing more than I ever have. It took a topic that I knew very little about and
turned it into a fantastic learning experience.” Others responded that they felt both supported and
challenged to take new risks in their writing and that the course gave them greater confidence on their
academic writing in preparation for taking upper-division courses.
Students typically enter “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age” with preconceptions about the
popularized images of hornet-helmet raiders. They leave with greater understandings of the highly
complex and diverse interactions that define the Viking Age. Ultimately, the course is designed to
challenge students to read analytically, to think critically about models of human migration and cross-
cultural interactions, and to reconsider what it means to be a college writer today.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Migration and travel have fundamentally shaped human history from its very beginnings. Whether forced
or voluntary, human mobility around the globe has led to some definitive, transformative ruptures in
history, from the Indo-Aryan migration from the Indus Valley, the expansion of the Mongols, and invasions
of the Roman Empire, to the displacement of Africans in the Atlantic slave trade, and the recent forced
relocation of thousands of Syrian refugees. The age of the Vikings, perhaps the most popularized moment
of migration from Scandinavia, shares this long history of human mobility and cross-cultural exchanges.
This course will introduce students to the ways in which scholars ask questions, read and evaluate sources,
and construct arguments. Acquiring training in textual analysis and argumentative writing, students will
study the movement of people during the Viking Age, from trading and pilgrimage, to raiding and
settlement. The course will explore a range of interdisciplinary approaches to history, including historical
and literary sources, archaeological evidence, and scientific techniques, and will demonstrate how such
evidence can be applied in academic papers. Through discussion of the motivations for travel and
migration, our aim is to develop persuasive writing and to think critically about historical studies and their
relevance and practical applications in our world today.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
Evaluate a piece of academic writing's merits and demerits and locate biases and assumptions
within a historical text.
Judge the integration of evidence within academic writing and apply similar strategies to their
own writing.
Develop a critical, persuasive writing style that is conscious of intended format and audience.
Plan a research project that features critical ideas, arguments, supporting evidence, and stylistic
Assess various drafts of their written work and identify areas of improvement.
Understand the interdisciplinary applications of technical skills and digital tools to the writing
Ashby, S. P. (2015). What really caused the Viking Age? The social content of raiding and
exploration. Archaeological Dialogues, 22(1), 89-106.
Bayard, P. (2007) How to talk about books you haven't read. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Bock, J. (2016). "How to see invisible people." Phi Kappa Phi Forum. 96 (4).
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Brink, S. (2008). Christianisation and the Emergence of the Early Church in Scandinavia. In S.
Brink (Ed.), The Viking World (pp. 621-628). London: Routledge.
Coupland, S. (1991). "The Rod of God's Wrath or the People of God's Wrath? The Carolingian Theology
of the Viking Invasions." The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
42(4): 535- 554.
Fitzhugh, W. and E. Ward (Eds.). (2000). Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, Washington DC:
Smithsonian Institution.
Gaut, B. (2015). Manors and markets. Continental perspectives on Viking-Age trade and
exchange. In M. H. Eriksen, B. G. Rundblad, U. Pedersen, I. Axelsen, & H. L. Berg
(Eds.), Viking Worlds: Things, Spaces and Movement (pp. 144-159). Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Goldberg, N. (2005). Writing down the bones: Freeing the writer within. Shambhala Publications.
Graff, G. and C. Birkenstein (2014). They Say, I Say: Moves That Matter in Academic Writing.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Harvey, K. (Ed.). (2013). History and material culture: a student's guide to approaching alternative
sources. London: Routledge.
Hultgård, A. (2008). "The Religion of the Vikings." In S. Brink (Ed.), The Viking World (pp.
212- 218). London: Routledge.
Jesch, J. (2015). The Viking diaspora, London: Routledge.
Jochens, J. (2002). "Vikings Westward to Vínland: The Problem of Women." In S. M.
Anderson & K. Swenson (Eds.), Cold counsel: women in Old Norse literature and mythology:
a collection of essays (pp. 129-158). New York: Routledge.
Kellogg, R. (2001) The Sagas of Icelanders, New York: Penguin.
"Lokasenna." (1981). Norse poems. In Auden, W.H. and Taylor, P.B. (Eds.). London: Burns and
Montgomery, J. E. (2000). "Ibn Fadlan and the Rusiyyah." Journal of Arabic and Islamic
Studies, 3, 1-25.
Price, N. (2010). "Passing into poetry: Viking-Age mortuary drama and the origins of Norse
mythology." Medieval archaeology, 54(1), 123-156.
Pinker, S. (2014). The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
New York: Viking.
Queneau, R. (1981). Exercises in style. New York: New Directions Publishing.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Schjødt, J.P. (2008). "The Old Norse Gods." In S. Brink (Ed.), The Viking World (pp. 219- 222).
London: Routledge.
Somerville, A. and R.A. McDonald (Eds.). (2010). The Viking Age: A Reader (2nd Ed.). Toronto:
University of Toronto Press.
Somerville, A., and R.A. McDonald (2013). The Vikings and Their Age (2nd Ed.). University of
Toronto Press.
This course will focus on honing skills in the writing processthe drafting and revision of medium-length
essays, culminating in a final research project of 10-12 pages. These writing assignments should be
formatted in Times New Roman, 12-pt font, and double-spaced. Other coursework will include short
reading comprehension exercises and brief writing assignments designed to guide students through the
processes of conducting research and incorporating source materials into a research paper. Students will
participate in the peer-review process throughout the semester as part of the revision process. Regular
attendance and participation are required. Please note that no late assignments will be accepted.
Please inform me as soon as possible if you require disability-related accommodations. In order to
appropriately assist you in this course, I require documentation from the Disabled Students’ Program.
Please note that any information shared with me is strictly confidential. The following are some resources
on campus:
Student Learning Center (
Counseling & Psychological Services (
University Health Services (
Gender and Equality Resource Center (
Disabled Students’ Program (
Berkeley International Office (
Schedule an appointment with a librarian (
Chicago Manual of Style Guide (
Participation is a vital component of this course and includes sharing an idea in class discussions, partaking
in peer review and group work, listening respectfully to the contributions of others, responding to your
classmates' ideas with feedback, and preparing discussion questions or related material for class. As
members of the UC Berkeley community, students are expected to contribute to a safe and effective
learning environment for everyone. This includes being respectful of multiple perspectives and keeping
the discussion on ideas and the speaker’s statements.
As part of the participation grade, students are expected to come prepared to class and ready to discuss,
collaborate, and partake in daily activities. Students are also required to attend my office hours at least
three times during the term. These meetings may be used to clarify topics in class, acquire additional
writing practice or feedback, or anything else related to the course.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
You are allowed one free unexcused absence; each unexcused absence thereafter will result in a one-
third-grade deduction (e.g. from B+ to B) from your participation grade. If you are repeatedly late to class
I will begin to mark you as absent. Excused absences MUST be requested before the missed class begins.
Cell phones are explicitly not allowed in class: they must be turned off or put on silent and stored away.
Laptops are generally not permitted unless otherwise specified by the instructor for class activities or peer
review sessions.
As a member of the UC Berkeley community, you are expected to demonstrate integrity in all your
academic work. Please properly attribute ideas and words that are not your own by identifying the original
source and indicating the extent to which you use others’ ideas. Plagiarism and other forms of academic
misconduct are serious offenses that are not tolerated and will result in a failing grade. You can find a
quick overview of plagiarism and how to properly cite sources here:
to-find/cite-sources. If you would like more information or are unsure whether you have plagiarized, you
are welcome to ask me during office hours!
*Note that the current weighted percentage of each category is tentative; they are decided upon
collectively by the students and instructor.
Attendance & Participation: 15%
Regular Assignments (Includes Blog Posts, Reflections, Surveys): 20%
Diagnostic Essay (4 pages): 5%
Should identify the main strengths and weaknesses of the student’s academic writing
Assigned: Week 1
Due: Week 2
Paper 1 (5-7 pages): 20%
Should focus on the student’s ability to construct an argument and assess whether they are developing
strategies for proper reading and evaluation of secondary source material.
Assigned: Week 2
First Draft Due: Week 3
Final Draft Due: Week 3
Paper 2 (5-7 pages): 20%
Should demonstrate clear improvement since diagnostic essay; Particular points of emphasis should
include the construction of the argument and how the structure of the paper is set up to present the
evidence in a clear and logical manner.
Assigned: Week 3
First Draft Due: Week 4
Final Draft Due: Week 5
Final Paper (10-12 pages): 20%
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Should emphasize each of the main units covered in this course: the evaluation and interpretation of source
material, the construction of a sophisticated thesis statement, the presentation and analysis of evidence,
a consciousness for academic writing style and tone, and effective organizational structure for presenting
Assigned: Week 5
First Draft Due: Week 6
Final Draft Due: Week 7
Course Blog:
Barely Passed
F < 60% Failed
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Introduction to Academic Writing/ What is Diaspora?
We will discuss the origin of the word “diaspora” and how scholars have come to apply the term outside its original
contexts. Students will read a “Viking-Age” application of diaspora and will be asked to identify similar modern-day
applications of the term’s usage and identify the arguments involved in these applications
Students will be able to determine which questions or strategies will enable them to infer information
about a text or object
Students will be able to identify the main ideas from a text and analyze strategies for how the author
maintains a central focus on the topic at hand
Students will be able to evaluate and reassess their written work and identify areas for improvement
Day 1
Review syllabus; Introduction to Viking-
Age Scandinavia
Day 2
What is Diaspora?
Contribution to class blog (400-500
Who are the "invisible people" that
Joseph Bock refers to in his article? What
type of person is "invisible"?
In your opinion, how is the modern
understanding of "migrant" similar or
different to Jesch's understanding of
diasporic individuals during the Viking
Age? Are Bock and Jesch talking about
the same type of person? Why or why
Jesch (2015):
Chapters 2 & 3
Bock (2016)
"How to see
The Art of Re-Reading/ From Raiding to Settlement
We will discuss popularized misconceptions about the Viking-Age Scandinavians and what it means to label a
medieval individual a “Viking.” In order to accomplish this, we will read primary source materials that pose
exaggerated, often contradictory impressions of the “Vikings.” This set of sources will help students develop
strategies for locating biases and assumptions as well as overall evaluating the persuasiveness of secondary sources.
Students will adopt and adapt a reading heuristic that works for their reading and learning style
Students will be able to distinguish good reading approaches from less effective ones
Students will be able to evaluate a piece of academic writing’s merits and demerits
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Students will judge how much time they need to devote to reading and re-reading in order to comprehend
an article and develop an accurate working knowledge of its key points
Students will be able to locate biases and assumptions within a historical document
Day 3
The Art of Re-Reading/ Vikings in the
British Isles
First paper topic assigned
Diagnostic Essay Due
Chapters 7 & 8
(Students will
divide up
Day 4
Developing Layers of Reading/ Vikings on
the European Continent
Contribution to class blog (400 words)
Look up a Viking-Age object and briefly
research its context (email me if you
would prefer to be assigned one). Using
the reading heuristic & the readings
from Harvey, write a response about
how you would approach "reading" the
object. What questions do you have?
What information is available/
unavailable? What sorts of information
can this object tell us about the Viking
Age? If possible, include a picture of
your object in your blog post.
Bayard (2009):
Chapters 1 & 2
Harvey (2013):
Day 5
Identifying Evidence/ Vikings Go West
In preparation for your first paper,
please submit a mind-map of your ideas,
focusing on how the main points of your
paper connect together. Then decide
which order of these main points seems
most appropriate or effective for
articulating your argument.
Preface, pp.
11-27; Chapter
Constructing an Argument/ Explorations West
We will focus more this week on the secondary sources, which outline and assess Scandinavian expansion west, into
the North Atlantic. We will particularly analyze the arguments of these sources and compare exemplary writing to
unpersuasive, unfounded arguments. This will enable students to begin synthesizing good and bad writing as well as
to apply this synthesis to their own writing method and to think through how to write a convincing argument.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Students will be able to recognize and evaluate persuasive writing
Students will learn how to present a clear, carefully-constructed thesis statement
Students will synthesize good and bad writing in order to develop a critical, argumentative writing style
Students will develop well-reasoned counter-arguments
Day 6
Reverse Outlines & Peer Review Day/
Crash Course on Viking Stereotypes
Paper 1 Draft Due
Kellogg (2001):
Saga of the
Day 7
Constructing & Structuring Arguments/
Vikings in Greenland & Viking-Age Gender
Contribution to class blog
Paste your First Paper into and take
a screenshot. Post this file to the blog
and write a reflection about how we
might use word frequency technologies
to evaluate our writing. We will apply
your reflections on word clouds to
Natural Language Processing (NLP) and
discuss how computational text analysis,
particularly counting word frequencies
might offer a new tool for analyzing
Jochens (2002)
Pinker (2014):
Chapter 3: The
Curse of
Day 8
The Counterargument/ Viking Settlement
on Iceland
Second paper topic assigned
Paper 1 Due with one-page reflection
Graff &
(2014): Part 1
"They Say"
Evaluating Sources/ Explorations East
We will discuss Viking expansion into eastern Europe as well as continuing our discussion of the Vikings in the British
Isles. We will compare primary sources that provide biased accounts of each of these movements and we will
compare and contrast them. In particular, we will interrogate these sources for their depictions of the Vikings and
the evidence they use to support these arguments.
Students will synthesize good and bad writing in order to analyze how evidence is used to support an
Student will apply their own developed reading heuristic towards the presentation of evidence
Students will be able to evaluate whether a source is properly used and effectively
Students will be able to judge the integration of evidence within academic writing
Day 9
Evaluating Sources/ Vikings in the East
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Chapters 9 &
(Students will
divide up
Day 10
Comparing primary sources/ Introduction
to the Byzantine Empire & the Varangian
Contribution to class blog
Using the following passages from three
different sources, develop a DETAILED
paper outline & thesis argument that
addresses the following prompt:
How was Viking appearances and beauty
standards interpreted by foreigners
during the Viking Age? What do these
foreign interpretations indicate about
cross-cultural interactions between the
Scandinavians and other cultures?
(1) “The Danes made themselves too
acceptable to English women by their
elegant manners and their care of their
person. They combed their hair daily,
according to the custom of their country,
and took a bath every Saturday, and
even changed their clothes frequently,
and improved the beauty of their bodies
with many such trifles, by which means
they undermined the chastity of wives.”
13th c. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
(2) “Consider the dress, the way of
wearing the hair, the luxurious habits of
the princes and people. Look at your
hairstyle, how you have wished to
resemble the pagans in your beards and
hair. Are you not terrified of those
whose hairstyle you wanted to have?”
-Alucin of York’s letter to
King Æthelred of Northumbria (793)
(3) “They are the filthiest race that God
ever created. They do not wipe
themselves after a stool, nor wash
themselves thereafter…Every morning a
girl comes and brings a tub of water, and
places it before her master. In this he
(2000): Ibn
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
proceeds to wash his face and hands,
and then his hair, combing it out over
the vessel. Thereupon he blows his nose,
and spits into the tub, and leaving no
dirt behind, conveys it all into this water.
When he has finished, the girl carries the
tub to the man next to him, who does
the same. Thus she continues carrying
the tub from one to another until each
man has blown his nose and spit into the
tub, and washed his face and hair.”
-Ibn Fadlan, 10th century
Day 11
Peer Review/ Introduction to the Rus/ Ibn
Fadlan's Description of a Viking boat
Paper 2 Draft Due
Price, N.
Addressing Research Topics/ The End of an Age
We will discuss the end of the Viking Agewhen was it and how can we be sure? We will revisit our discussions of
diaspora in week one and interrogate the extent to which “diaspora” is a useful concept for the Vikings. We will also
discuss the periodization of the Viking Age and its historical problems. Students will be able to take a stance on this
issue and develop thesis statements in class as practice.
Students will be able to compose their own insights and interpretations around their chosen evidence
Students will be able to produce a structured outline and reverse outline for a paper topic
Students will be able to determine an effective organizational structure that clarifies their ideas and
Students will be able to plan out a research project that critically assesses their argument, selected
supporting evidence, and stylistic choices
Day 12
Writing & Research/ Introduction to Norse
Contribution to class blog (400 words):
Prompt: Revisiting "Diaspora" and Viking
In an interview, Stanford Professor
Chang-rae Lee describes the tensions
between cultural context and individual
identity in the immigrant experience.
Originally from South Korea, Lee is
interested in modern-day diasporic
movements, particularly between Asia
and the U.S. However, Lee poses an
Schjødt (2008)
Graff &
(2014): Part 2
"I Say"
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
interesting question concerning what it
means to be an immigrant and how
one negotiates poly-identities, or
multiple cultural identities:
"I've always been compelled by the
notions of context and individuality...
I've been consistently fascinated the
question of persons who find themselves
in a context that either fits too well or
doesn't fit at all, by persons who feel
they exist simultaneously inside and
outside of a cultural or political space.
It’s no surprise that as an immigrant I've
always been extra conscious of this
In your blog post, predict how this
tension might have looked like to a
Scandinavian in the Viking Age. What
"poly-identities" might a Viking settler
have had? (e.g. cultural, religious, ethnic,
familial---try to be specific in your
response). Do you think Viking-Age
Scandinavians had to confront this
tension between their association to the
culture of their homeland and the
development of new individual identities
abroad? Why or why not? What role
does travel play in the formation of
these identities?
Day 13
Outlining & Refining a Thesis Statement/
Vikings in the East
Day 14
Source Hunting Online & in the Library/
Introduction to Research
Paper 2 Due with one-page reflection
Brink (2008)
Language & Tone / Cross-Cultural Exchanges around the World
Most of this week will be spent on helping students prepare for their final paper assignment. I will provide students
with writings on human migrations and diaspora that come from different genres: a popular-audience article from
History Today, an article from National Geographic, and an excerpt from a doctoral dissertation that was turned
into a best-selling book. We will compare the writing styles in each of these cases and discuss the extent to which
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
the audiences are similar/ different, the language choices change, and how information is presented differently in
Student will assess their own writing styles and recognize areas for improvement
Students will be able to compare and contrast different writing conventions across academic genres
Students will be able to prioritize academic language and styles that are most appropriate for academic
Students will be able to analyze and identify language structures and to appraise how writing style
contributes to or detracts from the academic writing
Students will be able to justify their chosen style and voice based on their identified reading audience
Day 15
Writing Style: Analyzing language &
"voice"/ Travel in the Medieval World
Style Assignment:
This week, we will work on academic
language and style. To jumpstart this, I
would like you to copy 500 words
of your second paper (from any section).
Now, I want you to cut that word count
down to 400 words by using different
diction or phrases and removing "non-
essential" words and replacing PASSIVE
VOICE with active voice! (Hint: circle
every time you use any form of the verb
"to be (is/ are/ were, etc.) and replace it
with a stronger verb)
For those of you interested in applying
Natural Language Processing based on
our previous introduction to NLP, try
inputting your text here and seeing what
parts of speech you use most/ least
Please include both copies (the original
and the updated) in your post.
Gaut (2015)
Day 16
Adopting an academic tone/ Scandinavia
and the Baltic States
Contribution to Class Blog
This week, I am asking you to read
sections from Queneau, Exercises in
Style. This is a very strange book
originally published in the 1950s (which
makes the awkward title pictures even
more bewildering). Nevertheless, this
book hugely impacted the way that
writers thought about literary writing
and genres.
Chapter 2
Ashby (2015)
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
The premise of the book is as follows:
The narrator is waiting at a bus stop.
(That's it). Each "style" narrates this
same story but changes drastically in
what details are being reported
and how the author writes about the
For the blog post, choose FIVE "styles"
(these sections are 1 or 2 pages each)
from Queneau. For each style, in a
response of 80-100 words, describe
the "style" that is used in the passage.
You may refer to specific examples in the
text if you wish but you might consider
the following questions:
-What kinds of language are being used?
Any particular vocabulary?
-What is the tone of the passage?
-What is the sentence structure &
overall organization of the passage?
-What effect does this style seek to have
on the reader? Is it formal or informal?
Day 17
Peer Review/ Human and Material Culture
Paper 2 Draft Due
Jesch (2015):
Chapter 6
Week 7
Final Paper Due with one-page reflection
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
You are an archaeologist whose team has recently discovered a major Viking boat burial in Salme, Estonia,
featuring damaged Scandinavian weapons, gaming pieces, knives, whetstones, combs, seven human
remains, faunal remains, and two Viking ships (11.5 meters), dating to ca. 750 AD.* Note that traditionally,
historians have attributed the beginning of the Viking Age to 793 AD. Now that the site provenance has
been dutifully and thoroughly recorded, your task as the excavation director is to prepare a report for
publication. Please consider the following in your evaluation and interpretation of the site:
What do the finds at Salme tell us about Viking-Age travel in the wider world (outside of
Main focus: Were the Viking-Age Scandinavians at the center or on the periphery of medieval
Europe? Define and defend your position in this debate using the evidence at Salme as well as
other historical sources. Make sure you address other contending interpretations.
What evidence (both the Salme site and outside archaeological finds and/ or textual sources)
would support your interpretation? Hint: Use your notes of our class readings.
Note: The journal you are publishing in is intended for a general audience. Assume that your
readers are educated but not necessarily specialists in archaeology.
Your paper must include at least THREE primary sources (in addition to Salme) and THREE
secondary sources (two of which must NOT be a text we have read for class).
Students will be able to compose their own insights and interpretations around their chosen
Students will be able to produce a structured outline their report, featuring an effective
organizational structure that clarifies their ideas and arguments
* You may refer to the archaeological report: Peets, J. et al. (2012). Research results of the Salme ship burials in
20112012. Archaeological fieldwork in Estonia, 43-60.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
Students will be able to plan a research project that critically assesses their argument, selected
supporting evidence, and stylistic choices
Students will be able to evaluate and judge their zero-drafts and locate areas of improvement
Creating an argument: Based on your readings throughout this course, take a position that defends
whether Viking-Age travel was a peripheral or central development in the wider medieval world.
Evidence: Determine and locate three primary source materials (e.g. archaeological, textual,
linguistic) in addition to the Salme site in your interpretation.
Secondary Sources: Browse your annotated bibliography of our class readings and their main
arguments (Note: you should also look up other secondary sources as well). Locate some secondary
sources that offer arguments that support your own and some that offer counterarguments to your
Outline: Create an outline that contains the information above in a relevant order that clarifies your
ideas. Include an introduction that outlines the archaeological site at Salme and summarizes the
discovered finds that are relevant to your interpretation.
Bibliography: Prepare a properly cited bibliography that includes your intended primary and
secondary sources cited in the correct format.
Write and Revise: Write a “zero-draft” that enables you to get your ideas on paper without worrying
too much about mistakes and edits. Then go back and revise your paper as needed. Maximum of 12
Argument (20 points): The argument is critical, clear and persuasive. The argument addresses
counterarguments and supporting interpretations in the report.
Integration of evidence & use of class readings (20 points): The evidence is critically analyzed with original
insights. The provided evidence connects to the overarching argument.
Topic focus (15 points): The ideas are presented well and are consistent throughout the report. The report
maintains proper focus and does not deviate from the topic. Demonstrates a solid understanding of the
source materials.
Discussion (20 points): The discussion is well thought-out, original, and acknowledges the author’s
methodology or perspective. The interpretation demonstrates high critical thinking and careful analysis.
Structure & organization (15 points): The structure of the paper is logical and cohesive. The writing flows
naturally, containing paragraphs with one central idea and transitions between paragraphs.
Proper citation & mechanics (10 points): Scholarly works are cited correctly using the specified style guide.
Few or no grammar or spelling errors.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
The argument is
critical, clear,
and persuasive.
The argument
ts and
in the paper.
The argument is
critical and
persuasive. The
stance may not be
entirely clear or
argument(s) and
are addressed in
the paper.
A critical argument
is present but it
may not be
persuasive or clear.
argument(s) are
addressed in the
An argument
is presented
but it is not
argument is
not well-
defined or
apparent in
the paper.
of Evidence
& Use of
The evidence is
analyzed with
original insights.
The provided
connects to the
The provided
evidence is
understood and
mostly applies
evidence to
understanding of
the evidence but it
is not accurately
interpreted and
sometimes applies
evidence to
support argument.
evidence is
provided and/
or does not
support the
evidence is
and it is not
used to
Topic Focus
Ideas are well
presented and
throughout. The
paper maintains
proper focus
and does not
deviate from the
topic at hand.
Demonstrates a
of the source
Ideas are
presented clearly
and consistent
throughout. The
paper mostly
maintains focus
on the topic.
demonstrates a
understanding of
the source
The presented
ideas are not
always clear or
throughout the
paper. The paper
sometimes loses
understanding of
the source
The presented
ideas are
unclear and
The paper
contains little
of the source
ideas are
unclear and
The paper
has no focus
and is hard
to follow.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
The discussion is
well thought-
the author’s
methodology or
perspective. The
high critical
thinking and
careful analysis.
The discussion is
well thought-out,
may briefly
acknowledge the
methodology or
perspective. The
mostly high
critical thinking
and careful
The discussion
falters occasionally
and does not
identify the
methodology or
perspective. The
interpretation is
mostly good but
lacks careful
analysis or thought.
The discussion
falters often
and does not
identify the
There is little
or analysis.
No original
ideas are
presented in
a meaningful
way and do
not contain
any analysis.
Structure &
The structure of
the paper is
logical and
cohesive. The
writing flows
paragraphs with
one central idea
and transitions
The structure of
the paper is
mostly logical and
cohesive. The
writing may not
always flow
naturally or
present ideas
logically with one
idea per
paragraph and
The organizational
structure of the
paper is unclear or
does not present
ideas logically with
one idea per
paragraph and
structure of
the paper is
unclear and
does not well
support the
Ideas are not
presented in
any logical
-nal order.
Citations &
Scholarly works
are cited
correctly using
the specified
style guide. Few
or no grammar
or spelling
Scholarly works
are cited correctly
using the
specified style
guide. Might
contain some
grammar or
spelling errors.
Scholarly works are
cited correctly
using the specified
style guide. Paper
is made unclear by
significant spelling
or grammar errors.
works are not
cited properly
using the
specific style
guide. Paper is
made unclear
by significant
spelling or
ideas are not
properly or
at all.
Syllabus 7/1 (2018) S. Knutson, “Migration and Mobility in the Viking Age
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Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age addresses the complex and diverse experiences of learners in a world embedded with digital technologies. The text combines first-hand accounts from learners with extensive research and analysis, including a developmental model for effective e-learning, and a wide range of strategies that digitally-connected learners are using to fit learning into their lives. A companion to Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age (2007), this book focuses on how learners’ experiences of learning are changing and raises important challenges to the educational status quo. Chapters are freely available to download from the publisher's website:
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