Center for International Education


Holloway Hall



All questions concerning the program should be
addressed to:

Dr. T. Ross Leasure, Program Director

Department of English


Video #1 of 2010 Program

Video #2 of 2010 Program




Old Norse Literature: Saga Sites in Iceland presents students with the opportunity to explore the world of the medieval Icelandic sagas over Spring Break in 2012 (dates TBA).  Students will get a sense of Viking Age culture in the North Atlantic, steeped in myth, that provides the context for some of the earliest prose narratives (the sagas) produced in Western Europe.  The Norse first settled Iceland in the 10th century, converted to Christianity in 1000 C.E., and quickly established the first “parliament” of sorts, the foundation of a still-thriving modern democracy with one of the highest standards of living in the world.  Students will have the opportunity to hear the Viking language, today called Icelandic, while touring the capital city of Reykjavik; more importantly, they will make excursions into the surrounding countryside to experience the profound natural beauty of this volcanic island nation, and stand precisely in the spots once trodden by the historical figures detailed in the literature like Erik the Red and his son, Leif Eriksson, the first non-native to set foot on the North American continent.

CLASS: Students will receive four credits for ENGL 349: Old Norse Literature in Translation.  The course will be offered over the entire spring semester.  During spring break the class will travel together to Iceland to experience first-hand the land of the great myths and sagas of the Norse tradition within the context of a course that surveys the extant poetry and prose of the Vikings’ descendants written in the 13th and 14th centuries.  Students will read and study representative literary works deriving from the Northern Germanic pre-Christian medieval tradition of the Vikings who spoke and wrote in Old Norse.  Our study will also include reading about and discussing aspects of medieval Scandinavian history, culture and archaeology specifically relating to the marauders and colonizers called the Norsemen.  This course especially concentrates on Viking mythography and the saga literature of Iceland. Supporting materials derive from archaeology, folklore and popular culture.  Prerequisite: ENGL 102 or 103.  Meets General Education requirement IB.

EXCURSIONS: Among the important saga sites that students will visit are Thingvellir (the “assembly plain”), the birthplace of Icelandic democracy more than a millennium ago, and Skalholt, the oldest bishopric on the island. Also of significance is the archaeological excavation of a farmstead and chapel at Mosfell believed to be the burial place of the hero of Iceland's earliest saga, that of Egil Skallagrimsson. All sites on the itinerary of excursions are to be found in the southwest quadrant of the island.  There will also be excursions to the many natural wonders of the "land of fire and ice," from glaciers and fjords to geysers, hot springs, and spectacular waterfalls.  Students should note that some excurions require moderate hiking and climbing.  Please bring appropriate footwear.

HOUSING: Students will be housed in three star tourist hotels and student hostels throughout their stay in Iceland.  All housing is included in the program costs.  All breakfasts are gratis, and a simple lunch is provided on tour days.  Other meals are the student’s responsibility.

Total Estimated Costs Worksheet
Program Cost $2400
Airfare (included)
Housing (included)
In-country travel (included)
Tuition for 4 credits (included)
Sub-Total $2400
Partial Board $300
Passport Fees $75
Visa Fees $--
Vaccinations --
Books, School Supplies(Varies by class) $75
Personal Entertainment (varies by individual) $200
Total $3050

COST: TBA.  Final costs will be determined in fall 2011. The price will include all tuition, round-trip airfare, room and board in Iceland, all travel within Iceland, and international health insurance. Costs not included in the program fee are passport fees, costs for personal items purchased in Iceland, and some miscellaneous expenses. US citizens do not need visas to visit Iceland. Passports, which are required, must be valid for three months beyond the end of the intended stay.


Admission is competitive and enrollment is limited.  Students will be admitted on a rolling basis until the program is full.  Admission is determined by GPA, essay, and recommendation and applications will only be considered when all components are received.

Students should also submit the following directly to the program director:

- An unofficial transcript;

- A completed faculty recommendation form from a faculty member who knows the student well.    Recommendation form available here.