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Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


Learning outcomes
At the end of the 60 hour module, the student will demonstrate familiarity with the main stages of evolution of the ancient Germanic languages from Indo-european. He/she will be acquainted with the material, juridical, religious culture of the Germanic peoples from their origins to the early Middle Ages. The student will also gain a core knowledge of the comparative method, of the etymological research, and of the philological and textual analysis. On these grounds, the student will be able to make comparisons among the modern Germanic languages he/she knows, and to appreciate the main phonological and lerxical changes which have affected English and German, thus obscuring their common origin. The student will be taught in detail one specific Old Germanic language and its distinctive phonological features. He/she will then learn how to analyse an Old Norse text belonging to the Eddic tradition (the poem Baldr’s Dreams “Baldr’s dreams”), and to recognise its specific metrics, style and language, placing it into the context of the literary production of medieval Iceland. Finally, he/she will be able to independently retrieve bibliographical material attaining to the specific poem discussed throughout the module, to read it and to report on its content.


Pre-requisite qualifications

Good knowledge of a modern German language (English and/or German) is required.


The topics covered will include:
a) Introduction to Germanic languages, their phonological characteristics and main morphological traits, starting from Indo-European; features of the comparative method; aspects of ancient Germanic culture: society, law, religion and mythology, runes, Christianization and the introduction of writing on parchment; the Old Norse manuscripts
b) Old Norse (or: “Old Icelandic”): origins and development; phonetics and main morphological characteristics
c) Eddic poetry, skaldic poetry; the sagas
d) “Baldr, son of Odin: the death of a ‘perfect’ god”.

Reading in the original and analysis at various levels of the eddic poem Baldrs draumar “Baldr’s Dreams” and of selected passages from ch. 49 of Snorri Sturluson’s Gylfaginning “The Deluding of Gylfi”.

A Programme for students who cannot attend lessons is available: students are kindly requested to contact the teacher to discuss this option and the exam syllabus.

Teaching Methods

Teaching methods
The module consists of lectures and in-class exercises. Starting from the beginning, students are required to approach the vocabulary of Old Germanic languages in a comparative Indo-european perspective, and to compare their realizations diacronically. By examining, at the beginning of the module, the phonetic features pertaining to the Old Germanic languages, it will be possible to evaluate the students’s basic knowledge of linguistic phenomena. Before the mid-term test, in-class exercises will help students to rehearse the main linguistic topics described so far. After the intial presentation of the Old Germanic languages, one single language will be taught in detail, with special regards to its phonological characteristics (this year, Old Norse). From the beginning, students will have to confront with simple prose passages in the original language, in order to prepare them to analyse a more complex, poetic text, which shall be discussed in its codicological context and with attention to its linguistic and stylistic features.

Verification of learning

Methods of assessment

Assessment involves a mid-term written test and a final oral exam.

The mid-term test will consist of 18 multiple choice questions on the main phonological features examined so far: if the student does not pass the examination, the negative mark will not be taken into consideration at the oral exam; if the student passes the test with a medium/high mark, it will be taken into consideration at the oral exam.

During the oral exam, the syudent will be asked to:

1) demonstrate his/her knowledge of the phonological characteristics of the Old Germanic language and of Old Norse in particular

2) to be able to describe the main characteristics of the Germanic languages compared to Indoeuropean

3) read in the original, translate and comment on passages from Gylfaginning and Baldrs draumar

4) Discuss the critical essays on the poem included in the Bibliography.

He/she will be expected to show a good command of critical terminology.

Students who have not attended the course, have at their disposal a specific Programme which allow self-learning. Students are asked to contact the teacher during the office hours to receive instructions and Bibliography concerning this Programme.


N. Francovich Onesti, La Filologia germanica, Carocci, 2002 (with reference to letter a of the Syllabus section) (NOT the following sections: 2.4.1-2.4.3; 2.4.6-2.4.9; 2.7.1-2.7.4; 2.8.1-2.8.2)
M. Scovazzi, Grammatica dell’antico nordico, Mursia, Milano, 1966
R.I. Page, Norse Myths, British Museum Press, London, 1990 (with reference to letter b of the Syllabus section)
G. Neckel–H. Kuhn (eds.), Edda. Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. I Text, Carl Winter, Heidelberg 19835 (the relevant pages will be uploaded on the Moodle website)
T. Gunnell, Eddic Poetry, in A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, ed. by R. McTurk, Blackwell Publishing, Malden – Oxford –Victoria 2007, pp. 82-100
Heather O'Donoghue, Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction, Blackwell, Malden 2004 (pp. 1-21).
P. Pulsiano (ed.), Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia, Garland, New York, 1993, “Poetic Edda” and “Snorra Edda”.

PPT presentations will be used throughout the module and then made available to students on the Moodle website (

More Information

Further information

Germanic Philology is a 12 credit module (among the “characterizing disciplines) of the First Degree Course in Languages and Culture for Linguistic Mediation). It can be chosen as an optional exam in “esame a scelta dello studente” for students of the First Degree Course in Languages and Communication and in Languages and Cultures for mediation – Linguistic-intercultural Curriculum (if not passed as exam of the “Filologia e linguistica generale e applicata” section.

PPT presentations will be used throughout the module and then made available to students on the Moodle website (

Questionnaire and social

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