Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Balázs Nagy

Residences and Urban Development in Medieval East Central Europe

Patterns and Tendencies

Fimmtudaginn 27. apríl 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Balázs Nagy

The presentation will discuss the urbanisation of the East Central Europe region from the 11th century, when after the Christianisation of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary a new take-off started, which was principally based on the emergence of early bishoprics and royal centres. The comparison of the development of residence cities offers a good way to demonstrate various factors which influenced the urbanisation in the region. Prague, Cracow and the royal residences in the so-called Medium Regni of Hungary, Esztergom, Visegrád and Buda offer good examples for the significance of environmental conditions in the rise of early centres. There are several parallel elements in the topographical development of these cities also. The presence of the royal residences contributed significantly to the urban development of Prague, Cracow and royal centres in Hungary. Both Prague and Cracow played a role as a monarchical residence from the early period, but in Hungary, the royal residences were situated in various locations. Buda finally got the position of permanent royal residence only in early 15th century, comparatively much later than its Central European counterparts. The conscious building activity of both Sigismund of Luxemburg (1387-1437) and Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) of Hungary finally made Buda a coequal example of Central European residence cities.

Balázs Nagy is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the Eötvös Loránd University from where he holds his doctoral degree (1995) and visiting faculty at the Department of Medieval Studies at the Central European University, Budapest. His main research interest is medieval economic and urban history of Central Europe.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Alaric Hall

Medievalism and a Microstate

Medievalism in Icelandic Literature since 2007

Fimmtudaginn 6. apríl 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Alaric Hall

With the rise of populist right-wing politics in the West and beyond, the long-standing role of medievalism in white-supremacist thought is again in the spotlight. In Iceland, the role of the medieval in recent national discourses has partly conformed to these wider white-supremacist patterns, yet partly developed in distinctive directions—not least due to Icelandic writers responding to the 2008 financial crisis and to the growing fetishisation of Iceland as a tourist destination. Thus Icelandic literature of the last decade offers a useful case-study both of trends elsewhere and of the alternative political potentials of medievalist rhetoric.

Hopefully steering more towards profundity than banality, the paper will explore how Iceland has traditionally managed to be included in the West’s canonical Middle Ages despite in many ways fitting this temporal construction very poorly, while, for example, North Africa is traditionally excluded. It will ask what effects the globalisation (or perhaps ‘reworlding’) of Medieval Studies which is now underway may have, and what Iceland’s place in this process may be.

The paper will consider how recent writers have adapted medieval texts, arguing that their choices show how deeply constrained much current literary writing is in form, and how this limits novels’ potential to interrogate the realities which we inhabit. Yet it will also show how the Europeanising, post-nationalist, and postcolonial intellectual movements which have characterised academic medieval studies since the Second World War have been influential on Icelandic novellists’ handling of the Middle Ages. The paper will also touch on whether novellists’ handling of the Middle Ages suggests that the medieval can or should currently offer any useful potential for utopian political thought.

Alaric Hall is a senior lecturer in medieval literature at the University of Leeds. Recent work has focused on romance-sagas, the post-medieval copying of sagas, and medievalism in Icelandic literature about the 2008 financial crisis.

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Gendering Historical Literacy — Vernacular Writing in the Nordic Countries 18–20th Century

Gendering Historical Literacy

Vernacular Writing in the Nordic Countries, 18–20th Century

Seminar March 31, 2017
University of Iceland, Gimli 102 (1st floor), 14.15–16.30

Five short papers will be given on the representations of gender and vernacular literacy practices in the Nordic countries. The talks will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Í þessari málstofu um rannsóknir á alþýðlegri iðkun læsis og birtingarmyndum kyns og kyngervis verða flutt fimm stutt erindi auk umræðna. Málþingið er öllum opið. Fyrirlestarar og umræður fara (að mestu) fram á ensku.

Programme:
14:15-14:40:
Ann-Catrine Edlund & Erla Hulda Halldórsdóttir: Gendering Historical Literacy. Two
Cases of Vernacular Writing in 19th and 20th Century Sweden and Iceland.

14:40-15:05
Haraldur Bernharðsson: 19th-century language standardization: Bringing a new linguistic
standard to life with boys and girls alike

15:05-15:30
Ásta Svavarsdóttir: Language use and language attitudes in 19th century Iceland: Gendered borrowings?

15:30-15:55
Guðrún Þórhallsdóttir: Gender differences in gender use? Generics, agreement and general
thoughts on 19th-century Icelandic

15:55-16:20
Davíð Ólafsson: Double agents? Exploring gendered literacy practices through the diaries of a male scribe

Sagnfræðistofnun Háskóla Íslands / The Institute of History, University of Iceland Miðaldastofa Háskóla Íslands / The University of Iceland Centre for Medieval Studies

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Anita Sauckel

“A man is mortified naked”

Clothing and Fashion in Íslendingasögur

Fimmtudaginn 30. mars 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Anita Sauckel

Although the last ten years have witnessed a number of relevant publications, a broader scholarly discussion of the literary significance of clothing in Icelandic saga literature is still due. In an attempt at stimulating further debate, my paper will focus on the complex narrative of clothing in Íslendingasögur.

Exclusive, fashionable garments made from costly woollens and even silk play an important role within the saga-plot: at European royal courts they serve as gifts to enhance young Icelander’s social rank; young women of Iceland’s leading families show themselves exclusively dressed at the thing assemblies to find a suitable husband; chieftains like Egill Skalla-Grímsson demonstrate their power by appearing in elaborately dyed coats at the local thing sites.

However, the depiction of clothing does not simply serve the characterisation of high-status protagonists: it influences the plot’s outcome, reflects social norms within the “saga-society” and expresses emotions like love, aggression and sorrow.
In my paper I will present these manifold notions of clothing in Íslendingasögur from different points of view. To what extent does clothing influence the plot? How are the different kinds of fabrics connoted? Does clothing as depicted in the sagas correspond to historical garments from the Viking age?

Anita Sauckel is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iceland. She has worked as a lecturer in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Greifswald (Germany), where she taught courses on Old Norse language, literature and culture. Anita studied in Munich (Germany) and Bergen (Norway), and holds a Dr. phil. from the LMU Munich. Her areas of research include Íslendingasögur, narratology, medieval clothing and textiles, and archaeology.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Massimiliano Bampi

Approaching generic hybridity in saga literature

The case of Víglundar saga

Fimmtudaginn 23. mars 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

massimilio-bampi
Massimiliano Bampi

A relevant number of sagas from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries have been defined in international scholarship as generic hybrids as they combine stylistic traits and fictional worlds that are held to characterize different genres, according to the taxonomy of saga literature currently employed. If viewed from the perspective of a systemic approach, this kind of generic hybridity is by and large the result of movements within the system of genres in the late Middle Ages, both synchronically and diachronically. An analysis of such movements may help us explain the forms of contamination that involve most saga genres. Quite interstingly, manuscript evidence suggests that the Icelandic literary system in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is characterized by a prominence of genres such as the riddarasögur and the fornaldarsögur (especially the more fantastic Abenteuersagas), which come to exert an influence even on the younger Íslendingasögur (e.g., Grettis saga, Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, and Víglundar saga). This change in the centre of the system of saga genres — which determines which genres are most influential, and can therefore exert an influence both on the writing of new sagas and on the copying of older ones — is coeval with and related to a shift in ideology that occurred when Iceland became part of the territories of the Norwegian Crown, from 1262-64 on, and an Icelandic service aristocracy began to arise. It is therefore clear that the dynamics that operate within the social and political systems have a bearing on the development of the literary system in the late Middle Ages in Iceland, and should thus be taken into proper consideration.

In this talk I will discuss how we can approach the question of generic hybridity in late medieval Iceland by analyzing Víglundar saga as a late ĺslendingasaga, in which the combination of two fictional worlds can be read as illustrating the clash of different world views.

Massimiliano Bampi is Associate Professor of Germanic Philology at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His main research interests include the definition of genre in saga literature, the role of translation in the development of vernacular literatures in the medieval North, and intertextual reading in Icelandic and Swedish manuscripts.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Shaun F. D. Hughes

‘The Never-Ending Story’

Saga Writing from Ari Þorgilsson to Bergsveinn Birgisson

Fimmtudaginn 16. mars 2017 kl 16.30
Odda 101

shaun-hughes-2
Shaun F. D. Hughes

For much of the twentieth century, scholarship on the Íslendingasögur was focused largely on arguing that these works were fiction rather than history. Now that a consensus seems to have been reached that this is in fact the case, perhaps the time has come to reconsider the sagas again as history, not “History” as contemporary historians understand it, but “Saga” as it was understood in the thirteenth and subsequent centuries. Such re-evaluation consists of two parts. The first is to analyse the writing of sögur in the light of recent French scholarship on the writing of “Histoire” which addresses such questions as “what does it mean to create the past” and “why does one ‘construct’ history?” Scholars drawn upon here include: Catherine Croizy-Naquet, Écrire l’histoire romaine au début du xiiie siècle (1999); Aimé Petit, L’anachronisme dans les romans antiques du xiie siècle (2002); Francine Mora-Lebrun, “Metre en romanz” (2008); and Pierre Courroux, L’Écriture de l’histoire dans les chroniques françaises (2016).

But there is a major difference between French “histoire” and Icelandic “Saga.” Saga-writing did not come to a halt in the 14th century as some literary histories suggest, but continues down to the present as witness the appearance of Geirmundar saga heljarskinns in 2015. The period of Icelandic history before the conversion to Christianity in the year 1000, I argue, was imagined as a collective “subcreation” in Tolkien’s sense as developed in his essay “On Fairy-stories.” Nor is this a modern phenomenon. I would argue that this collective subcreation is already very much evident in the thirteenth century when the classical family sagas were composed. This subcreation or secondary World, the world of pre-Christian Iceland, like Middle-earth or Westeros, is a consistent imaginative world, into which Icelandic authors of the thirteenth century and later could insert their narratives.

The fifteenth-century Víglundar saga og Ketilríðar and Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls are given a place in the prestigious Íslensk fornrit series even though the latter involves characters found nowhere else. Guðni Jónsson was sufficiently far-sighted to include in his Íslendingasagnaútgáfan edition Ármanns saga ok Þorsteins gála, Ásmundar saga Atlasonar, Helga saga Hallvarðssonar, Illuga saga Tagldarbana, Þjóstólfs saga hamramma, and Þorsteins saga Geirnefjufóstra but his precedent has been ignored by subsequent editors. As Halldór Kiljan Laxness noted back in 1945, the Íslendingasögur are more a reflection of the time they were written rather than the time they were writing about. Even the earliest sagas are unreliable as a record of settlement Iceland. Therefore I argue that we should open up the canon to include all sögur and in the process open up our understanding how of the past continued to live in the present for successive generations of Icelanders, and why this past continued to be so immediate that they never ceased writing about it.

Shaun F. D. Hughes (Ph.D., University of Washington, 1972) is Professor of English at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, where he is Director of Literary Studies and former Director of English Language and Linguistics (2010-2016). He also serves as Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Liberal Arts. His research areas include Old Norse and early Modern Icelandic Studies.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Astrid Ogilvie

Sagas and Science

Documentary Evidence of Changes in Climate and Sea-Ice Incidence in Iceland from the Settlement to the late 1800s

Fimmtudaginn 9. mars 2017 kl. 16.30
Oddi 101

Astrid Ogilvie

Iceland is well known for its rich literary tradition that includes a wealth of historical records containing accounts of climate and weather. In this presentation, some of these sources will be described and evaluated, and the information gathered from them will be used to cast light on variations in the climate of Iceland over the last 1000 years or so. Prior to AD 1600 the data are fairly sporadic, but after that time it is possible to re-construct temperature and sea-ice indices. A scrutiny of the sources indicates that there has been a great deal of climatic variability from early settlement times to the present day. From ca. 1640 to ca. 1680 there appears to have been little sea ice off Iceland’s coasts. During the period 1600 to 1850, the decades with most ice present were probably the 1780s, early 1800s and the 1830s. From 1840 to 1855 there was virtually no ice off the coasts. From that time to 1860 there was frequent ice again, although the incidence does not seem to have been as heavy as in the earlier part of the century. Further clusters of sea-ice years occurred again from ca. 1864 to 1872. Several very heavy sea-ice years occurred during the 1880s. From 1900 onwards sea-ice incidence falls off dramatically. As regards temperature variations, a cooling trend may be seen around the beginning and end of the seventeenth century. However, these periods are separated by a mild period from ca. 1640 to 1670. The early decades of the 1700s were relatively mild in comparison with the very cold 1690s, 1730s, 1740s and 1750s. The 1760s and 1770s show a return to a milder regime in comparison. The 1780s are likely to have been the coldest decade of the century, but this was compounded by volcanic activity. The 1801s, 1830s and 1880s were also comparatively cold.

Astrid Ogilvie’s PhD thesis was on climate and society in Iceland. Her current research includes both climate history and current Arctic issues. She was the 2014 Nansen Professor of Arctic Studies at the University of Akureyri. She is a Senior Scientist at the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Akureyri and a Fellow of Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Luke John Murphy

Between Unity and Diversity

Articulating Pre-Christian Nordic Religion and its Spaces in the Late Iron Age

Fimmtudaginn 2. mars 2017 kl 16.30
Odda 101

Luke John Murphy

There is a growing acceptance that pre-Christian religion in the Nordic region was not a single monolithic cultural system, but rather varied along a range of geographic, social, temporal, and even cognitive axes. Despite this, relatively little scholarly attention has yet been paid to distinct articulations of Late Iron Age Nordic religion, with both the physical and social settings of religious praxis notably understudied. This talk presents the findings of a recent doctoral dissertation at University of Aarhus, which sought to contribute to the emerging discourse of diversity and variation in pre-Christian religion in the Germanic Nordic cultural area during the Late Iron Age (c. 500-1200 AD).

Drawing on medieval textual accounts, archaeological evidence, and toponymic data, the tension between the twin tendencies towards unity and diversity in a range of Late Iron Age religious contexts are explored. Models of pre-Christian religion\s in a range of settings — from public cult at Gotlandic þing-sites to household religion in settlement-age Iceland — are analysed with tools and methods developed in the wider History of Religions, leading to the conclusion that pre-Christian Nordic religion was practiced in a range of physical and social settings, and exhibited remarkable diversity over the course of the Late Iron Age.

It is therefore argued that while we can meaningfully speak of “pre-Christian Nordic religion” in the singular, to do so is best done when comparing or contrasting Nordic paganism to other religions. A number of more or less distinct pre-Christian Nordic religion\s are also identified, including those that appear to have been particular geographic articulations of the wider religion; those that employed different sacrally-charged spaces in their pursuit of hierophany and kratophany; and those that appear to have been the religious output of a distinct social unit. It is hoped that these findings will prove relevant not only to scholars and students of Late Iron Age religion, but also to fields including the Study of Religion, Scandinavian History, and Viking Studies.

Luke John Murphy has recently submitted his PhD dissertation at Aarhus University. He is presently teaching Pre-Christian Nordic Religion at Háskóli Íslands, and will take up a Bernadotte Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Stockholm University in autumn 2017. His research interests include religious variation, female supranatural beings, and method and theory in the study of Pre-Christian Nordic religion.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

François Lachaud

Warriors, Monks, and Angry Ghosts

The World of Japanese Medieval Epics (950-1450)

Þriðjudaginn 21. febrúar 2017 kl 16.30
Lögbergi 101

François Lachaud

Japanese medieval epics—also known as “war chronicles” (J. gunki monogatari)—have remained the most popular works of Japanese literature. No other genre exerted such a considerable influence on Japanese culture. To this very day, the legacies of medieval chronicles can be observed in countless plays, visual adaptations (from painted scrolls to animation movies), in the genesis of modern historiography, and in controversial debates on national identity. Compared to Classical Court literature (950-1150)—often considered as the perfect embodiment of a remote Japanese Golden Age—medieval epics are still widely read and performed in their original language. The (partial) adaptation of the Heike monogatari in a romanised transcription published in 1592 by the Jesuit mission press at Amakusa, known today as the first work of Japanese literature to appear in print, confirms that, even “under Western eyes”, medieval epics were the works in which the most elevated style was to be found.
After a brief introduction to representative works in chronological sequence—i.e. Shōmonki (Chronicle of [Taira no] Masakado), Hōgen monogatari (The Tale of [the]Hōgen Rebellion), Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike), Taiheiki (Chronicle of the Great Peace), and “individual epics” such as Gikeiki (A Chronicle of [Minamoto no] Yoshitsune) and Soga monogatari (Tales of the Soga Brothers)—the presentation focuses on central themes including performance and textuality (intertextuality), warrior-ethos and representations of war, vengeful spirits and Buddhist salvation. Epic chronicles have often been read as the most significant source of information on medieval warrior culture, sometimes overlooking the differences between them and so-called historical tales (rekishi monogatari), especially “mirror-literature” (kagami mono). Current research projects emphasise the importance of comparative studies to reach a better understanding of their role in shaping Japanese national consciousness. Using a wide array of sources (both written and visual), the aim of this talk is to provide a general overview of the genre and to present new lines of approach.

François Lachaud is professor at the École française d’Extrême-Orient (Buddhism and Japanese Civilisation) and teaches at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Department of Religious Studies). He is trained in philology and in art history, and he is currently studying medieval Japanese epics their legacies.

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