HIS4140 – Objects and Identities in the Viking Age (c.750-c.1050)

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Viking Age Europe is a useful term to approach the history of Northern Europe from c. 750 to c. 1050. In this period, Scandinavia was characterized by a high degree of social mobility and profound socio-political changes. The Scandinavian emigration of the ninth and tenth centuries left noticeable imprints on adjacent regions such as Carolingian Francia, Anglo-Saxon England, the North Atlantic and Eastern Europe. The political and religious impacts of Ottonian Germany, Anglo-Saxon England, early Rus’ and Byzantium on tenth- and eleventh-century Scandinavia were equally important. These waves of mutual interaction defined the history of Viking Age Europe and the ways in which social and political communities were shaped there and various identities were forged and manifested.

Learning outcome

This course will employ an interdisciplinary approach to the social history of the Viking Age (with an emphasis on mainland Scandinavia and its interactions with neighboring countries) and the significance of certain types of objects in their construction. The first three classes will provide an introduction to the historical period and relevant historiography. The second part of the course (weeks 4–7) will look at the traditional social categories of identity, namely, ethnicity, religion, social status, and gender, and their significance for multiple identities in Viking Age Scandinavia. While doing so, the course will overview an on-going theoretical debate on the category of identity in sociology, social psychology, and sociolinguistics, as well as the relevant historiographic debates on ethnic and religious identities in the Early Middle Ages. The third part (weeks 8–12) will focus on several material objects that functioned as important symbolic markers of identities and exemplify the use of material evidence in historical studies.


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Recommended previous knowledge

A good ability to read and understand English is required for this course.

Overlapping courses

Overlap with HIS2140


The course will be taught in the form of seminars via discussion of assigned readings (2/45 per week (12 meetings in total)). Regular attendance and participation in discussions (4 active participations minimum per course) will be required. More information about obligatory activities will be announced at the first meeting.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


3-days take-home examination: The students have three days to write an assignment. The length of the assignment should be 6-10 standard pages (2300 characters without spacing). The exam assignment will be published in Inspera at 11:00 on the first day of the exam. For time and date for the exam, see the semester page.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


Students’ own work can be in either English or Norwegian

Facts about this course






This course is offered on an irregular basis.

Teaching language