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Viking invasion at UMBC

Students learn about the history and culture behind the infamous Vikings.

Students who love Thor and the History Channel’s show Vikings have a chance to get in on the action this Spring. UMBC is offering a course in viking myths and sagas as well as two guest lectures.

Vikings have invaded UMBC. Kathryn McKinley, associate professor of english and director of the medieval and early modern studies minor, helped to develop two guest lectures for the spring semester: The World of Vikings in 10 Objects, and The Glory of the Viking Ship. The Literature and Culture class “Viking Myths and Sagas” developed from the two events.

The World of Vikings in 10 Objects lecture, currently held on the third floor of the commons, is always unusually crowded. All forty seats of the four rows of long tables fill up quickly. Latecomers pull in extra chairs from another room. They don’t want to stand – the lecture is four hours long.

Dr. Lila Kopár, director of the Center for Medieval and Byzantine Studies at Catholic University, leads the discussion. Equipped with a powerpoint presentation, and hordes of handouts, Kopár has no trouble keeping students engaged. Through a Hungarian accent, Kopár asks students what their initial impressions of Viking culture are. Students call out answers like violence and savagery.

“We’ll try to eradicate that by presenting the information we have.” Kopár said.

Corbin Jones, a junior english major, came prepared to the lecture. He is not enrolled in the Vikings class, but knows the mythology well and eagerly answers questions posed by Kopár. Jones is even dressed as a Viking. He sports a green tunic made by a friend, a brown belt with runes on it and a tin mug hooked to his belt.

“I can’t miss a Viking thing,” Jones stated, displaying his enthusiasm. He adds that his instructor, Professor McKinley, gave him a strong incentive to attend.

Tyler Berterman, a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in medieval and early modern studies, was pleasantly surprised by the lecture.

“Dr. Kopár touched on every aspect of Viking culture,” Berterman said.

Berterman’s interest in viking culture lead her to enroll in the Viking Myths and Sagas class. The class is taught by Professor Nancy Michael, a student of Kopár’s.

“I’ve never taken a class on Vikings. I don’t think many people have.” Bertman shared.

When asked “why Vikings?” Michael offered a tongue-in-cheek answer echoed by many of her students:

“Why not Vikings?”

If you missed Dr. Kopár’s lecture, be sure to check out The Glory of the Viking Ship presented by Dr. Anders Winroth of Yale University’s Department of History. The lecture will be held on Thursday, Feb 26 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.