Final Reflections – Molly McAllister

What have been the major obstacles you have faced in putting a research project together?

I knew I wanted to discuss the important theme of conversion to Christianity  during my research but I had to make sure I placed this within a relevant historical context in order to meet the criteria for a history dissertation. Also, the dissertation topic was a bit vague so I had to remedy this. Additionally, I also struggled understanding methodology and choosing one.

What strategies have you adopted to overcome these obstacles?

Through detailed research of a variety of sources I have placed my dissertation in the time period of the 10th century Iceland. This therefore set my dissertation in a key historical context and make my topic more relevant to events today which helped when it came to justifying my topic. I did further readings about methodology to consider what one would be the most suitable and that helped to consolidate my understanding as well.

I utilised the sources given in this module such as JSTOR which is good database for sources, this provided a lot of sources that could not be accessed on the online university catalogue so this really helped collate evidence for my findings.

What has this taught you about approaching your dissertation?

Through the systematic ways of first finding a research question suitable, and researching the appropriate methodology in order to have a strong core base for my dissertation in order to produce a higher standard and quality of work overall.

Which aspects of the 9X6 module have been the most useful in helping you get your project ready to start?

The supervisor meetings I felt were the most helpful in assisting my starting point of my dissertation and then throughout the module in a means to aid my concerns in the research topic overall. Additionally, the lectures which outlined various different parts such as how to find a research question helped to consolidate my understanding of how I was to go about starting research for my dissertation topic as a whole.

Annotated Bibliography – Molly McAllister

The overall intention for my dissertation research is to examine the conversion to Christianity of the Vikings around c.1000. This will include surrounding areas such as Norway and Europe and their overall influence in the conversion as well.

Primary Sources

  • A. Somerville, Angus, ed. The Viking Age: A Reader (2nd Edition). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.

This edited book contains a whole collection of key sources from the time period of the Vikings and the diversity of their history and cultural heritage. In particular interest for the dissertation research, the sources relating to Iceland specifically would be helpful to give an idea of an overview to the situation the Vikings were dealing with, within Iceland itself. Through the use of these sources, it will paint a picture of the events that took place which influenced the conversion to Christianity.

  • Smiley, Jane. The Saga of Icelanders: A Selection. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

This edited book is also a collection of essential primary sources specifically about the genre of Icelandic sagas. In direct interest to the dissertation research, the sources are prose narratives which highlight the historical events taking place within Iceland in the 9th, 10th and 11th Century and are known to be the best known specimens of Icelandic literature. The assistance of these sources will aid to give a sense about the struggle and conflict that arose within the societies of the early generation of Icelandic settlers, most notably the Vikings.

  • IMB – International Medieval Bibliography

This bibliographic database provides a comprehensive resource of articles in journals and volumes. This is a valuable resource that contains the records of Iceland as a country during the time period that is being researched and the settlements that took place there.

Secondary Sources

  • Winroth, Anders., The Age of the Vikings. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014, 181-212.

This chapter is highly significant in the research of conversion of Christianity within Iceland as it showcases the religions of Northern Europe which has been drawn from written, visual and archaeological evidence. Through this, it emphasises the complex society, culture and legacy of the Vikings within Iceland overall.

  • Winroth, Anders., The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011

This book makes a point of explaining the conversion of Scandinavia from paganism to Christianity in the early Middle Ages. He highlights that Scandinavians converted to Christianity because it was in individual chieftains’ political, economic, and cultural interests to do so rather than passive receivers.

  • Byock, Jesse L., Viking Age Iceland, London: Penguin Books, 2001.

The quintessential book for studying the structure of Viking Age Iceland and its underlying structures and cultural codes of the social order. It details in depth about the role of society within Iceland at the time and its significance in the island’s settlers through insights into the popular Icelandic sagas.

  • Garipzanov, Ildar, ed. Conversion and Identity in the Viking Age, Belgium: Brepols N.V., 2014.

This edited book details the topic of how conversion affected peoples’ identities – both as individuals, and as members of broader religious, political, and social groups – and provides examples of the complicated patterns of interaction, influence, and the modification of identity that were distinctive of the transition from paganism to Christianity in the Viking world.

Molly McAllister – Introduction

Hi everyone! I’m Molly and I live in a small town called Clydebank just outside Glasgow. I’m currently thinking of writing my dissertation about the Viking period – specifically the conversion to Christianity – however I am still undecided so far. As for online learning, before the pandemic I commuted to University so online learning has been helpful in the sense that I don’t have to travel all the time. I do miss the social aspects of university though such as lectures and meeting people in seminars and I hope everything returns to normal soon.