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SCAND 375 A: Vikings in Popular Culture

SCAND 375 Flyer - AUT 20
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:30pm - 1:20pm
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Photo of Lauren Poyer
Lauren Poyer

Syllabus Description:

Hello! Welcome to SCAND 375! Happy to have you here. I taught this course for the first time in Sp20, entirely online, so no matter what Au20 looks like, rest assured that we will have a fully realized course. Now let's watch Thor: Ragnarok!


What is this course about?

This course examines representations  of “the Vikings” in popular culture and how those representations have changed over the past 200 years. We will examine a variety of media representations of the Vikings from Europe and the United States, including advertising, comics, film, literature, music, poetry, propaganda, television series, and video games. As we compare these modern artistic productions with their medieval counterparts, we will learn how the Vikings have functioned as vessels for a variety of  cultural fantasies about gender, class, race, and religion for over a millennia.


What will I learn in this course?

The goal of this course is not only to give you a basic framework for interrogating the complex relationship between history, fantasy, and art, but also to give you insight into the specific historical, political, and artistic transformations of the idea of “the Vikings” in Western popular culture over the past two centuries. You will be able to identify key themes in a variety of media products, communicate these themes to others, and contextualize these themes in relation to the broader idea of “the medieval.”  

This class will also give you the basic tools and vocabulary to critically read, analyze, and interpret a variety of media, including textual, graphic, audio/visual, and interactive art. You will practice a variety of analytical frameworks with which to approach the function of medievalisms within contemporary art. This course will train you to recognize appeals to historicity and authenticity in the context of “the medieval,” identify medievalism as a rhetorical strategy, and articulate how “Vikings” specifically are employed to convey the message of a text. 


How do I contact you, Lauren, my instructor in this course?

Office hours are your time. If you have questions about anything related to the course material, the course itself, Vikings and/or the Viking Age, Old Norse language and/or culture in general, study abroad opportunities, a major or minor in Scandinavian Studies, or anything else, please come by my office hours. My office hours are from 9:00 11:00 AM on Wednesdays via Zoom. If you are unable to make these hours because of scheduling issues or personal reasons, I am also available by appointment. 

Please do email me with questions ( I will try to reply to all emails concerning material not on the syllabus within 24 hours. I only check email during business hours, or from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Please plan accordingly. 


Do I need to buy any books for this course?

There are no required texts for this course. All readings and films are provided through Canvas. You will, however, be required to purchase one (1) Viking-themed video game of your choice and at any price point by the end of Week 5. 


What are you doing to ensure that this course is equitable?

This course attempts to follow best practices for a Universal Design for Learning. I will attempt to incorporate as many learning styles and strategies as possible into the curriculum for this course. If a particular learning style or strategy works best for you (or doesn’t work at all), please let me know in office hours. Be mindful that what does not work for you might work for others and vice versa. Any classroom is a collaborative learning environment, even a large-scale “lecture” course like this one. Decades of research have consistently demonstrated that collaborative learning environments significantly increase critical-thinking skills compared to individual learning environments. Collaborative learning environments depend on mutual respect and understanding: we all learn best when we are invested in each others’ successes. Please note that I have no technology policy; you are free to use whatever technological tools best help you learn. If you require any accommodations, I encourage you to contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) and/or communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience, so we can discuss your needs in this course. ← This is standard language that I include in all of my course syllabi, but I keep it here because I want all of this to remain the case, even with our move to an online learning environment for Sp20. I promise to do my best to be flexible, patient, and lenient with whatever challenges arise from moving this course online. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any difficulty accessing or understanding any of the material for this course. My goal is for us all to learn as best as we can under the circumstances.  

The University of Washington is committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable educational environment. Do not be afraid to hold yourselves, others, and the university at large accountable. Report instances of harassment or discrimination based on “race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, or parental status” or gender identity here. Remember that you have a right to safety and that this includes safety against “sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, [and] sexual harassment,” which you can report here. Note that “all University employees...are required to report to their supervisors or the administrative heads of their organizations any complaints of discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment.” Calling someone by their preferred name and/or pronouns is a sign of respect and the expectation in this course: refusing to do so will not be tolerated and you will be asked to leave.

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (

College is hard. If at any point you notice a change in your health or habits that negatively affects your happiness or well being, I encourage you to contact the Hall Health Center or the Counseling Center. Your Services & Activities Fee goes in part toward these services; you pay for this resource for managing stress, anxiety, depression, time management issues, and more.

Instances of academic misconduct will be handled on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please visit the the UW Community Standards & Student Conduct page on academic misconduct

As a lecturer at the University of Washington, I am a state employee. Salary information for state employees is public record and is available at


How will I be graded in this course?

Weekly quizzes are checks of reading and lecture completion. Quizzes will be “published” on Canvas on the Friday of each week at 9:00 AM and will remain open for one full week. Each quiz consists of five multiple choice questions from lecture and/or the readings, is graded for accuracy, and may be taken twice. Expect each quiz to take less than ten minutes. 

The weekly discussion boards are a check of reading and lecture comprehension. Discussion board topics will be “published” on Canvas on the Monday of each week at 9:00 AM and will remain open for one full week. Each discussion board requires one 100-150 word OR 1-minute video post to a given prompt and one 50-100 word OR 30-second video comment on a group member’s post. Discussion boards are graded for completion. Expect each post + comment to take less than thirty minutes total. This is an experiment for me in asynchronous formative assessment. Currently this discussion board is the only part of this course with any peer communication. Research shows that collaborative learning is best for retention and application, so I expect this will be a valuable part of the course, but I will ask for feedback about it later in the course to see if it lived up to expectations.

There will be three (3) writing assignments. Each assignment will allow you to practice rhetorical analysis using media-specific vocabulary (e.g. game mechanics and dynamics, film framing and focus, comics abstraction and realism). These assignments ask you to examine both how different storytelling elements of each medium engage with “the medieval” and how the use of “Vikings” contributes (or not!) to the message of each text. Rubrics for these assignments will be given later in the quarter. Due dates are included on Canvas and in the course plan. 

There will also be three (3) micro essays. These essays are “real-world” applications of course concepts. Each micro essay invites you to role-play a different scenario and address common cultural myths about the medieval past and specifically about the Vikings. Rubrics for these assignments will be given later in the quarter. Due dates are included on Canvas and in the course plan.

Grades for this course are calculated on a 100-point scale and converted to the UW 4.0-scale prior to final submission. Conversion follows a linear scale recommended by the Department of Linguistics and available here. According to this conversion scale, percentage ranges for each letter grade are as follows:

A: 90-100

A- (90-94); A (95-100)

B: 80-89

B- (80-83); B (84-86); B+ (87-89)

C: 70-79

C- (70-73); C (74-76); C+ (77-79)

D: 62-69

D- (62-63); D (64-66); D+ (67-69)

E: 0-61


How does my grade break down?

Weekly quizzes (2% ea x 10) = 20%

Weekly discussion posts (2% ea x 10) = 20%

Writing Assignments (15% ea x 3) = 45%

Micro Essays (5% ea x 3) = 15%

Catalog Description: 
Explores media representations of "the Vikings" in popular culture over the past 200 years in Europe and the United States, including advertising, comics, film, literature, music, poetry, propaganda, television series, and video games. Compares these modern artistic productions with their medieval counterparts, and examines how the Vikings have functioned as vessels for a variety of cultural fantasies about gender, class, race, and religion.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
June 28, 2020 - 9:16pm