Kaaren E Grimstad

Stories, especially myths, fairy tales and legends, the stuff of oral tradition, are what fascinate me most in my teaching and research. This fascination has drawn me to the Old Icelandic texts I love to read with my students and write about in my research. Medieval Icelanders were superb storytellers; between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries they wrote prodigiously, preserving much of their traditional oral storytelling in an extensive body of texts that are rich in memorable scenes, unforgettable characters, and well-written dialogues. Stories that contain magic and animals intrigue me particularly. Both of the sagas that have engaged me in teaching and research for many years have these components: The Saga of the Volsungs with its wolves, snakes, horses, dragons, otters and magical shape-shifting, and Hrafnkels saga, which features a relationship between an Icelandic chieftain and his horse. My current collaborative research features the relationship between medieval pictorial and textual tellings of the great Nordic dragon-slayer tale. My enthusiasm for things Icelandic extends to overseeing the administration of our May-term course in Intensive Beginning Icelandic. And my animal of choice is the Icelandic horse. Next to Iceland, I am most passionate about the pleasures I enjoy learning about movement as a student of the Feldenkrais Method and my lessons in dressage riding. I would like to learn how to be a considerate and communicative partner with a horse.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Harvard University.


  • Old Norse language & literature
  • Icelandic sagas
  • Scandinavian folklore
  • Scandinavian mythology
Courses Taught
  • Old Norse Language and Literature
  • Middle High German Tristan & Old Norse Tristrams saga
  • Scandinavian Folklore
  • Scandinavian Mythology
  • Icelandic Sagas
  • Snorri Sturluson's Edda
  • Saga Reading & Analysis: Hrafnkels saga
  • Seminar on Ví¶lsunga saga
  • "Monstrous Mates: The Leading Ladies of the Nibelungenlied and Volsunga saga." With Ray Wakefield. Women in Medieval Epic. Ed. Sara Poor and Jana Schulman. New York: Palgrave, 2007.
  • Volsunga saga: The Saga of the Volsungs. Ed. & trans. K. Grimstad. Bibliotheca Germanica 3. Saarbruecken: AQ-Verlag, 2000.
  • "Sá er svinnr er sik kann: Persuasion and Image in Hrafnkels saga." With Maria Bonner. Arkiv fí¶r nordisk filologi 118 (2003): 5-28.
  • "Munu vit ekki at thví­ sí¦ttask: A Closer Look at Dialogues in Hrafnkels saga." With Maria Bonner. Arkiv fí¶r nordisk filologi 111 (1996): 5-26.
  • Elucidarius in Old Norse Translation. Ed. E. S. Firchow and K. Grimstad. Reykjavik: Stofnun Arna Magnússonar, 1989.
  • "The Revenge of Volundr." Edda: A Collection of Essays. Ed. Haraldur Bessason and R. J. Glendinning. Winnipeg: U of Manitoba P, l983. 187-209.