10547 - Germanic Philology (1)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will possess the theoretical and material fundamentals in order to understand the Germanix languages, literatures and cultures (which must be intended like corpora indipendently from their literary value) from their proto-historical past to the end of the Middle Ages, in other words the cultures that Germanic peoples starting from the prehistorical period. The Middle Ages will be at the centre of investigation because in that period the common Germanic cultural milieu is more evident through the large number of sources and documentation in Old Germanic languages and literatures. The student will be able to read, translate and give a philological and linguistic comment to a short passage in an Old Germanic language

Course contents

Students of the 9 CFU (60hrs) course:

Module A (30hrs):

Fondamentals of Germanic Philology

The cultural peculiarities of the Germanic peoples will be taken into account: the oral transmission of knowledge, law, religion, social structure and the role of women. Part of the module will analyze the literary genres of the Germanic literature of the Middle Ages (heroic poetry, sagas, skaldic poetry, religious poetry). The themes of the module will be analyzed by reading and commenting some primary sources in Italian translation. A particular care will be devoted to the literary and documental production of the medieval period. The main philological methodologies of texs reconstruction will be presented during the course.

Module B (30hrs):

The Ragnars saga

The Ragnars saga is part of the so-called fornaldarsögur (sagas of the ancient time), which were written during the 13th century but were inspired by a heroic past whose deeds were placed even before the Icelandic colonization. Like all fornaldarsögur, the Ragnars saga - which is set in the 9th century - is a telling about heroism, fantastic elements, magic and paganism. Along the centuries, it has inspired many works, like the successful TVmovie series "Vikings". During the course, the text of the saga will be analysed paying particular attention to cultural aspects of the Nordic world of the Middle Ages. Furthermore, a short passage of chapter 5 will be translated.


Students of the 6 CFU (30 hrs) course:

Module A or B (at choice)


Module A:

Teaching materials on disposal on the web page of the course;

Anna Maria Luiselli Fadda, Tradizioni manoscritte e critica del testo nel Medioevo germanico, Roma, Laterza, 1994, pp. 113-135.

Vittoria Dolcetti Corazza, Introduzione alla filologia germanica, Alessandria, Edizioni dell'Orso, 3° ediz., 2009, capitolo V (pp. 83-110)

Nicoletta Francovich Onesti, Filologia Germanica: lingue e culture dei Germani antichi, Roma, Carocci, 2011, pp. 11-35; 136-142.

Edward R. Haymes, Susann T. Samples, Heroic legends of the North : an introduction to the Nibelung and Dietrich cycles, New York - London, Garland, 1996, pp. 7-14; 35-47.

Edgar C. Polomé, Germanic Religion, in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. by M. Eliade, vol. 5, New York - london, Macmillan - Corrier, 2005, pp. 520-536.

Module B:

- Saga di Ragnarr, introduzione e cura di Marcello Meli, Milano, Iperborea, 2017;

- Torfi Tulinius, Sagas of Icelandic Prehistory (fornaldarsögur) , in A Companion to Old Norse Literature and Culture, ed. by Rory McTurk, Malden (MA), Blackwell, 2007, pp. 447-461;

- Ashman Rowe, Elizabeth - Harris, Joseph, Short Prose Narrative (þáttr), in A Companion to Old Norse Literature and Culture, ed. by Rory McTurk, Malden (MA), Blackwell, 2007, pp. 462-478;

- Bampi, Massimiliano, Le saghe norrene e la questione dei generi, in Intorno alle saghe norrene, a cura di Carla Falluomini, Alessandria, Edizione dell'Orso, 2014, pp. 89-105.

- Bibire, Paul, On Reading the Icelandic Sagas: Approaches to Old Icelandic Texts, in West Over Sea: Studies in Scandinavian Sea-Bourne Expansion and Settlement Before 1300. A Festschrift in Honour of Dr. Barbara E. Crawford, ed. By B. Ballin Smith, S. Taylor and G. Williams, Leiden, brill, 2007, pp. 3-18.

-Guðni, Jónsson, ed. Fornaldar sögur Norðurlanda, Reykjavík, Íslendingasagnaútgáfan, 1954-1959, vol. 1, 233-234.

Non attending students:

Module A:

Marco Battaglia, I Germani. Genesi di una cultura europea, Roma, Carocci, 2013.

Module B:

- McTurk, Rory, Studies in Ragnars saga loðbrókar and its Major Scandinavian Analogues, Oxford, The Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1991;

- Clunies Ross, Margaret, The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2010;

- O'Donoughe, Heather, Old Norse-Icelandic Literature. A Short Introduction, Malden (MA), Blackwell, 2004

- Bjarni Einarsson, On the Role of Verse in Saga-Literature, in "Mediaeval Scandinavia", 7 (1974), pp. 118-125;

- Bjarni Guðnason. The Icelandic Sources of Saxo Grammaticus, in Saxo Grammaticus: A Medieval Author Between Norse and Latin Culture, ed. by Karsten Friis-Jensen, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1981. pp. 79-93.

The following grammar can be used to facilitate the translation of the saga's passage:

M. Barnes, A New Introduction to Old Norse, Part I, Grammar, The Viking Society for Northern Research, University College London, 2008.

Teaching methods

Front lessons with multimedia instruments

Assessment methods

The exam consists in an oral interview on both modules, which can not be shared into separated moments. During the interview the methodological and critical skills acquired by the student will be evaluated . The student will be invited to discuss the texts covered during the course and to move within the sources and bibliographical material in order to be able to identify in them the useful information that will enable to illustrate the similarities and cultural areas of the discipline. The achievement of an organic vision of the issues addressed during the classes and their critical use, which demonstrate ownership of a mastery of expression and specific language, will be assessed with marks of excellence. Mechanical and / or mnemonic knowledge of matter, synthesis and analysis of non-articulating and / or correct language but not always appropriate will lead to discrete assessments; training gaps and / or inappropriate language - although in a context of minimal knowledge of the material - will lead to votes that will not exceed the sufficiency. Training gaps, inappropriate language, lack of guidance within the reference materials offered during the course will lead to failed assessments.

Teaching tools

Video and audio materials in internet, lectures notes provided by the teacher.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Zironi