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130Episodes
Category: History

Discover what Vikings did when they were at home in this fun medieval history and literature podcast about the Icelandic sagas. Hosted by two medieval literature professors with beards.

April 18, 2021

Saga Brief 21 - Interpreting the Past Series (Part I) - Modern Perceptions of the Viking Age with Verena Hoefig and Zachary Melton

Welcome to the first in a series of special Saga Briefs on Interpreting the Past, a series that looks at modern interpretations and perceptions of the medieval. In this episode, John and Andy welcome two scholars, Dr. Verena Höfig (Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Zachary Melton (Ph.D. student at the University of Iceland).

We cover a range of topics, including the appeal of Viking Age culture and mythology to modern religious and political movements; the role of literature, history, and social media in the construction of individual and group identities; and the challenges that we face, both as scholars and as citizens of this world, coming to terms with the many differences of interpretation that divide us. 

As that list suggests, this isn't the usual light stroll through the sagas. This episode is short on jokes and heavy on substantive discussion of important issues. Whether you're an expert or an enthusiast, this one's worth your time. We hope you enjoy and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Here is a bibliography of the texts and studies referred to, either directly or indirectly, in this episode:

American Heathens: The Politics of Identity in a Pagan Religious Movement by Jennifer Snook

“Ethnicity as Cognition” by Rogers Brubaker, Mara Loveman, and Peter Stamatov

Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism by Mattias Gardell

Huginn’s Heathen Hof and Declaration 127

Karl Seigfried on Ásatrú, Anti-Racism, and Rescuing the Past – quote taken from “What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion” in The Atlantic

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

“William Cullen Bryant’s American Antiquities: Medievalism, Miscegenation and Race in The Prairies” by Andrew Galloway

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

April 3, 2021

Episode 32d - The Saga of Thord Menace (Judgments)

Welcome to the Saga Thing! It's time to put The Saga of Thord Menace on trial. Will Thord win Best Bloodshed for the many men he chops in half? Will his Body Count be high enough to earn him a respectable BCDM ranking? And will John ever stop talking about nicknames? There's only one way to find out!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

March 12, 2021

Episode 32c - The Saga of Thord Menace (chapters 10-14)

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So, here's a change of pace. In this section, a small group of men are going to try to kill Thord Menace.

But since this is the final episode in our summary of The Saga of Thord Menace, there are only two possible outcomes. Will Thord finish off the endless string of men waiting to ambush him? Or will the countless relatives of Orm finally get their revenge? Either way, we're putting this violent saga to bed.

Skeggi_and_Thorhall7xvju.pngThis action packed episode features the return of Skeggi of Midfjord, who quickly proves that he's no pushover. And when he draws, that legendary Viking sword, blood must flow. Will Eid once again be the voice of reason in the feud between his two fathers? Or will Skeggi and his crew put an end to the menace of Thord?

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There's only one way to find out!

Thanks again to the brilliant Jacob Faust for his work illustrating this story for us. You can find more of his work on Instagram, where he's @skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music - "The Royal Vagabond Medley" by Jocker's Dance Orchestra

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

February 20, 2021

Episode 32b - The Saga of Thord Menace (chapters 6-9)

Lots of Viking style fun and medieval adventuring on this episode of Saga Thing. Join us for part 2 of The Saga of Thord Menace!

Orm is dead and Skeggi of Midfjord is unable to avenge his awful nephew. It's time to see where all of this leaves Thord Menace. If the original illustrations for this chapter by @skarphedin_illustrator are any indication, things are going to get a little messy.

Here's Thord getting to know Orm's business partner, Indridi.

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And here's an action shot of Thord's meeting with Ozur.

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Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music - "The Royal Vagabond Medley" by Jocker's Dance Orchestra

Poetry Music - "Crowd Hammer" by Kevin MacLeod

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

 

January 24, 2021

Episode 32a - The Saga of Thord Menace (chapters 1-5)

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Saga Thing returns from a much needed holiday break to tackle The Saga of Thord Menace. In this episode we meet the family of Thord, explore the formulas of saga writing, witness the assassination of Norwegian royalty, and learn how young Thord earned his menacing nickname. Oh, and we finally get to see some saga characters taking advantage of the lovely hot springs of Iceland. It's a great start to a saga that rarely gets the attention it deserves. Join us for The Saga of Thord Menace!

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Our thanks to Bryan Foust for returning to share his talents with us once again. Check out his work on Instagram, where he's known as @skarphedin_illustrator.

And, as promised, some bibliography on saints and hagiography, courtesy of John. Blame any issues with citation style accuracy on him. I'm just cutting and pasting this time.

Dubois, Thomas A. Sanctity in the North: Saints, Lives, and Cults in Medieval Scandinavia. University of Toronto Press, 2008.

 

Egilsdóttir, Ásdis. “Happy Endings: The (Para)Normality of Miracles.” Ármann Jakobsson and Miriam Mayburd, eds. De Gruyter, 2020.

 

Egilsdóttir, Ásdis. “The beginnings of local hagiography in Iceland : the lives of Bishops Þorlákr and Jón.” Lars Boje Mortenson, ed. The Making of Christian Myths in the Periphery of Latin Christendom (c.1000-1300). Museum Tusculanum Press (University of Copenhagen), 2006.

 

Grønlie, Siân. The Saint and the Saga Hero. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

 

Phelpstead, Carl. Holy Vikings. ACMRS Press, 2007.

 

Wellendorf, Jonas. “Ecclesiastical Literature and Hagiography.” Ármann Jakobsson and Sverrir Jakobsson, eds. The Routledge Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas. Routledge, 2019.

 

And if you’re looking for a more general introduction to the phenomenon of medieval saints’ cults, you really can’t do better than Peter Brown’s The Cult of the Saints (University of Chicago Press, 1981).

 

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/