• Course begins on Thursday, September 19

  • Live sessions with the instructor each week

  • Sessions begin at 1:00pm Eastern U.S. time (10:00am Pacific)

Week 1

Society and Aspects of Daily Life

Week one introduces how Nordic society was structured and how people lived. Just who was a Viking? What did they wear or do for fun? Were there shieldmaidens? The discussion includes social classes, gender, and the importance of family. We’ll also touch on basics such as housing, food, healing, and other facets of daily life.

Week 2

Politics and Power

In week two learn about politics and legal/judicial systems with particular emphasis on the Alþingi assembly in Iceland. Vikings were led by chieftains who wielded power but only within a system of reciprocity with their fellow free farmers that was constantly being negotiated. Political power was not absolute. Learn why one scholar has called their system a “proto-democracy.”

Week 3

Expansion into the Wider World

Week three covers the raiding and trading that Vikings are famous for. They expanded out from Scandinavia in unprecedented numbers and in many directions. The reasons why and how they accomplished their goals are still debated by historians. But there is no doubt they made contact with many cultures and their presence was widely felt.

Week 4

Nordic Language and Art

In week four we look at traditional language and art. Old Norse and the runic alphabet dominated in a time when oral culture and storytelling were hallmarks of Viking life. We’ll discuss literary forms like sagas and poetry, as well as runic inscriptions. Their art was part of a wider Germanic tradition focusing on form and function. We will examine the materials, methods, and primary styles of the period.

Week 5

Norse Mythology and Pre-Christian Worldview

In week five the discussion turns to the Nordic worldview in the pre-Christian period. Vikings were polytheistic and had a very complex cosmology. Gods, goddesses, giants, dwarves, and elves…and that only scratches the surface. Learn the basics of this interesting system we call “Norse Mythology.”

Week 6

The Coming of Christianity to the Nordic World

The series ends with an important cultural shift during the Viking Age when Scandinavians abandoned their traditional polytheism and became Christian like the rest of Western Europe. Learn the reasons why they ultimately converted and how that affected what it meant to be a “Viking.”

Enroll in this course today!

  • Start Learning

    The first live session is Thursday, September 19 at 10:00am Pacific U.S. time

  • Access

    Course materials are available for three months from the first course session.

Meet Your Instructor

Terri Barnes

Terri Barnes is a medievalist historian from Portland, Oregon, who has been teaching for 20 years. Her primary area of historical research and teaching is medieval Northern Europe, with particular emphasis on the history of the Nordic world during the Viking Age. She is History faculty at Portland State University and Portland Community College. History is her passion, and she counts herself fortunate to have a career where she can share it with people every day through the classroom, public speaking events, and social media. She has a popular podcast, Vikingology: The Art and Science of the Viking Age, where she and her cohost interview top scholars about all things Viking, and she can also be found on her YouTube channel Shieldmaiden in the Kitchen where she combines her love of food, cooking, and history. When she’s not working she can be found traveling to historic places – usually somewhere Vikings went – or going for a run.

What Terri’s students say

“This is such an interesting class and with a professor who I'm convinced was born to teach it. Any student interested in Viking history should count themselves lucky to learn from her! She is so knowledgeable about the subject yet approachable and nonjudgmental about student questions. That is to say, Professor Barnes creates the perfect learning environment for learning about history.”

“Her passion for the material and for scholarship in general is incredibly contagious.”

“I have always liked history, but until her classes, I had no idea that I loved history.”

“Terri keeps the class fresh and fun with each week being a different aspect or particular theme of Viking culture or life. Taking this Viking History class was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had.”

“Being given the opportunity to take Terri’s Viking History course has had a profoundly positive impact on me as a student.”

“Professor Barnes's passion for her subject creates an extremely fun and enriching learning environment. Her Viking History class is worth every amount of money and energy I used for it.”

What other medievalist academics say

“You're in good hands with Prof. Terri Barnes. She is a master teacher whose classes on the Viking Age fill in a flash, and a sensitive and insightful interpreter of the medieval Scandinavian past. I have learned a great deal from her. You will, too.”

Dr. John Ott, History Dept. Chair, Portland State University

“Let Terri Barnes be your guide to the Vikings! This course has it all – covering the Viking Age holistically from the Vikings’ idea of a good time back home in Scandinavia, to their shocking raids on English monasteries, and their intrepid transatlantic voyages that saw them reach the eastern shores of North America. An accomplished teacher of Scandinavian history and a published author in the field of Viking Studies, Terri expertly shows how English chronicles, Icelandic sagas, Arab travelogues, and recent archaeological and scientific discoveries can be woven together to tell an unprecedentedly vivid story of the Vikings.”

Dr. Davide Zori, Associate Professor of History and Archaeology, Baylor University

Sneak Peek: Terri talks about why Vikings still intrigue us so mcuh