HIST 309
Fire and Ice: The History of Modern Iceland Spring 2024
Division II
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Class Details

How have a few wretched souls been able to survive on a frozen tundra in the middle of the north Atlantic for over 1100 years? This course will explore the curious history of Iceland, a small and unimportant country, that despite, or because of its geographic isolation and lack of any valuable natural resources, has been able to develop a distinct national and cultural identity. What lessons can be drawn from the historical experiences of Icelanders? The course will start with the paradigmatic sagas (Egil´s and Njal´s Saga) that have played an out-sized role in the development of Icelandic culture. Then we will assess the nation´s independence, the impact of the world wars, the building of the modern welfare state, and how the country has fared through economic peaks and valleys. At the end of the semester, students will be able to understand the significance of the following phrases: “Fögur er hlíðin,” “Deyr fé, deyr frændr,” “Þetta reddast,” “dugleg/ur,” and “Áfram Ísland.” This comprehension is, of course, very practical since 320,000 people understand the Icelandic language.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 3859
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: short papers and final project
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia

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