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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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

András Vadas

Little Ice Age and East Central Europe

Sources, results, and limitations

Fimmtudaginn 16. febrúar 2017 kl 16.30
Odda 101

andras-vadas-copy
András Vadas

In most parts of Western and West Central Europe, the period from the early fourteenth century onward is considered to be an important period of medieval climate and environmental history. The fourteenth century is usually referred to as the beginning of the transition from the Medieval Climatic anomaly to the Little Ice Age, followed by a more or less constant colder period ending in the nineteenth century. These climatic fluctuations have been demonstrated in Western Europe by both historical sources and scientific means. Due to the relative scarcity of written sources and scientific studies, the validity of the climatic epochs in East Central Europe is, however, far less evident.

The presentation aims at showing the research possibilities of climate history in East Central Europe with special attention to the potential of historical and archaeological sources both in identifying long-term trends and short-term weather events. Some individual weather events will be discussed. On the one hand, the weather events of the 1310s, the period of the so-called great famine in NW-Europe, as well as the impact of the eruption of the Laki in 1783 to the weather of East Central Europe.

András Vadas is Assistant Professor at the Department of Medieval European History at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. His main research interests are the climate and environmental history of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Times.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Jan Alexander van Nahl

“I never use minted coins”

Andreas Heusler in 21st-century medieval studies

Fimmtudaginn 9. febrúar 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Jan Alexander van Nahl
Jan Alexander van Nahl

Andreas Heusler III (1865–1940) ranks among the most influential scholars in medieval studies, and his manifold publications cover linguistics, poetics, literary and cultural history, and law, as well as saga translations; twice he visited Iceland. The impact of Heusler’s oeuvre on twentieth-century scholarship (and thus likewise scholarship today) can hardly be overestimated. Repeatedly it has been suggested that a critical re-reading of Heusler’s most successful studies was overdue, as it would enable scholars to reflect upon the present state and future capabilities of Scandinavian Studies in particular.

However, beyond German-language borders, Heusler’s far-sighted thoughts have been adopted only to a small degree. In an attempt at explaining this strange disregard, in 2005, Margaret Clunies Ross claimed that “in order to be aware of what Heusler wrote, one has to be able to understand his German in its distinctively Heuslerian prose”. Heusler’s stylistically unvarnished way of putting thoughts down in writing has often been highlighted as a crucial aspect of his success within German scholarship. Thus it does not come as a surprise that attempts at translating key aspects of Heusler’s ideas into English fell short. Yet, as Heusler in his many surviving letters pointed out himself, his gnarled style was above all the result of careful considerations and – Heusler’s well-known musicality.

It is against this background that my lecture seeks to illustrate challenges of both a re-reading of Andreas Heusler’s oeuvre and, thereby, an intensified debate among medievalists beyond language borders.

Jan Alexander van Nahl studied in Bonn/Germany and Uppsala/Sweden, and holds a Dr. phil. from the university of Munich. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iceland and the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Jan has published on Old Norse literature, History of Science, Theology, Modern Literature, and the Digital Humanities.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Hjalti Snær Ægisson

Lollardar og brauðslíking herrans

Kruðerí úr kirkjusögu 15. aldar

Fimmtudaginn 2. febrúar 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Hjalti Snær Ægisson

Lollardar voru trúarhópur í Englandi á 15. öld sem átti upphaf sitt í fylgismönnum John Wyclif (1320–1384). Meginmarkmið lollarda var að stuðla að umbótum innan kirkjunnar og hefur Wyclif lengi verið túlkaður sem einn af táknrænum forverum Lúthers í hefðbundinni söguskoðun. Kenningar og viðhorf lollarda lúta einkum að framkvæmd messunnar og kirkjulegra sakramenta. Framlag þeirra til alþýðufræðslu í Englandi er jafnframt mikilvægt og ensk biblíuþýðing Wyclifs hlaut töluverða útbreiðslu. Ótvíræð tengsl hreyfingarinnar við bændauppreisnina 1381 áttu eftir að reynast afdrifarík og enska kirkjan afgreiddi hugmyndir lollarda sem villutrú.

Síðustu þrjá áratugi hefur orðið mikil vakning í rannsóknum á lollördum, menningarsköpun þeirra og trúarviðhorfum. Allmargir fræðimenn í hinum enskumælandi heimi hafa tekið þátt í frjórri og lifandi umræðu um upphaf og eðli lollardanna, tengslin við Wyclif og áhrif og útbreiðslu þeirra skoðana sem þeir aðhylltust. Afstaða veraldlegra og kirkjulegra yfirvalda í Englandi til lollarda hafa verið könnuð í þaula, framhaldslíf kennisetninga þeirra á meginlandi Evrópu og hugsanleg áhrif á siðbreytingu 16. aldarinnar. Stiklað verður á stóru um þessa fræðilegu umræðu og gerð grein fyrir helstu álitaefnum sem verið hafa í forgrunni.

Loks verður fjallað um hugsanlega snertifleti lollarda við íslenska kirkjusögu. Engar beinar heimildir hafa varðveist um lollarda á íslensku en ekki er óhugsandi að meðvitundin um þá hafi skilað sér í þeim ritheimildum sem rekja má til Englands. Ísland hafði umtalsverð tengsl við England á 15. öld, jafnt á sviði verslunar og kirkju, og sátu enskir biskupar á báðum biskupsstólunum um árabil. Horft verður sérstaklega til Jóns Vilhjálmssonar Craxton sem sat á Hólum 1426–1435 og reynt að geta í nokkrar af eyðunum sem finna má í sögu hans með hliðsjón af umbótastarfi lollarda.

Hjalti Snær Ægisson er doktorsnemi í almennri bókmenntafræði við Háskóla Íslands. Hann vinnur að rannsókn á norrænum ævintýrum og tengslum þeirra við prédikunarhefð 13. aldar.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Már Jónsson

Creativity or clumsiness?

Scribal discrepancy in seventeenth and eighteenth century Iceland

Fimmtudaginn 26. janúar 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

mar-jonsson-02
Már Jónsson

Post-medieval manuscripts containing medieval texts are currently the subject of increased scholarly attention as a means, firstly, of extending our understanding of the development of Icelandic literary culture, and, secondly, as possible witnesses to vellums that are no longer extant. In both instances, scholars need to determine the relationship between extant manuscripts, making use of appropriate methodologies based on current and earlier research on stemmatic affiliations. Such an approach requires an understanding of the nature of scribal innovation, error, and other voluntary or involuntary variations. In this lecture, I will address these issues by means of (1) some general reflections on the principles of textual criticism developed by Paul Maas over some thirty years from 1927, and (2) three relevant and (hopefully) illuminating case studies. The benchmark will be several copies of Ari fróði’s Íslendingabók, all of which certainly derive from two copies (AM 113 a fol., AM 113 b fol.) made in 1651 by Rev. Jón Erlendsson, who had access to an early vellum text that inexplicably disappeared soon afterwards. The second case study will be a group of manuscripts that appear to derive from Vatnshyrna, a vellum that was destroyed in the 1728 Great Fire of Copenhagen, and that contained several Sagas of Icelanders, including Laxdæla, Eyrbyggja, Vatnsdæla, Hænsa-Þóris saga and the shorter version of Flóamanna saga. The third case study involves the manuscript progeny of a lost vellum of Njála, the so-called Gullskinna, which was copied in several locations between 1640 and 1680, but which then vanished without trace.

Már Jónsson er prófessor í sagnfræði við Háskóla Íslands. Hann hefur skrifað um Árna Magnússon og handrit hans, yngri sem eldri, og fjallað í ræðu og riti um félags- og menningarsögu Íslands frá lokum 13. aldar til loka 19. aldar.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Pernille Hermann

Memory, Space, and Narrative in Saga Literature

Fimmtudaginn 12. janúar 2017 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

pernille-hermann
Pernille Hermann

Many parts of Old Norse-Icelandic literature, especially the sagas of Icelanders, are immensely preoccupied with spatial anchoring. This talk will deal with literary spaces in the context of memory, and it will be discussed how spatial anchoring can be connected to mnemonic techniques, such as the method of loci, used by the saga authors. The talk will also address how mnemonic spaces offer important background structures that serve as organising narrative units. The focus of the talk will be on man-made spatial constructions, such as buildings and their interior; examples will be taken from the sagas of Icelanders, and Eddic material will be included as a comparative framework.

Pernille Hermann is associate professor of Scandinavian literature at Aarhus University. Her research interest centres on Old Norse literature and culture. Her research addresses such areas as literary criticism and theory in the Middle Ages, orality and literacy, memory culture, genre and human geography.

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—o—

Íslensk klausturmenning á miðöldum

klausturbok-utgafutilbod-02

Út er komin hjá Miðaldastofu Háskóla Íslands og Háskólaútgáfunni bókin Íslensk klausturmenning á miðöldum með greinum níu fræðimanna um ýmsar hliðar klausturmenningar á Íslandi á miðöldum. Greinarnar eru allar byggðar á fyrirlestraröð Miðaldastofu um þetta efni. Bókin er alls 317 blaðsíður og efni hennar sem hér segir:

Gottskálk Jensson
Íslenskar klausturreglur og libertas ecclesie á ofanverðri 12. öld

Margaret Cormack
Monastic Foundations and Foundation Legends

Sverrir Jakobsson
Frá Helgafellsklaustri til Stapaumboðs

Elizabeth Walgenbach
Church Sanctuary in the Contemporary Sagas

Gunnar Harðarson
Viktorsklaustrið í París og norrænar miðaldir

Haraldur Bernharðsson
Kirkja, klaustur og norskublandið ritmálsviðmið á Íslandi á miðöldum

Guðvarður Már Gunnlaugsson
Voru scriptoria í íslenskum klaustrum?

Guðrún Harðardóttir
Myndheimur íslenskra klausturinnsigla

Guðbjörg Kristjánsdóttir
Handritalýsingar í benediktínaklaustrinu á Þingeyrum

Útgáfutilboð: kr. 5.900

Útsöluverð bókarinnar er kr. 6.900, en hún býðst nú á sérstöku útgáfutilboði á kr. 5.900 með heimsendingu. — Sendið nafn og kennitölu á netfangið haraldr@hi.is eigi síðar en 15. desember næstkomandi.

Miðaldastofa Háskóla Íslands og Háskólaútgáfan

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Magdalena Schmid

A periodization of Iceland’s Landnám in light of new archaeological data

Fimmtudaginn 8. desember 2016 kl. 16.30
Askja 132 — takið eftir nýjum stað!

Magdalena Schmid
Magdalena Schmid

The Landnám (‘settlement’) of Iceland has been vigorously discussed for centuries. It is known that the Norsemen successfully colonized Iceland in large numbers, but crucial details about the timing and patterns of settlement are still unclear. Was the colonization rapid and complete, or gradual? Did the colonization follow the same pattern across Iceland or were there regional differences?
From an archaeological perspective, we can only know the detailed structure of the pattern and timing of settlement by applying robust chronological models. The key dating methods in the North Atlantic area are tephrochronology, radiocarbon dating and typology. Nevertheless, radiocarbon dates from the earliest archaeological contexts in Iceland have been a matter of fierce contention since the 1980s. This study, therefore, aims to reassess the temporal sequence of the Norse colonization of Iceland through a rigorous synthesis of empirical data and a new application of Bayesian statistics. More precisely, 500 radiocarbon dates as well as volcanic ash layers (tephra) from well-defined archaeological contexts of 300 settlement sites are systematically quantified.
The reassessed data permit a countrywide comparison and the first classification of archaeological sites into four periods:

1. Pre-Landnám (A.D. pre-877),
2. Landnám (A.D. 877–939),
3. Post-Landnám (A.D. 939–1104) and
4. Viking Age (A.D. ~800–1100).

The periods show a rapid incline of settlement establishments, as well as regional differences in settlement patterns in four key areas in Iceland, the southwest, northwest, north and east. The data summarized here for the first time indicate that it will be possible to reconstruct the tempo and development of the colonization process in decadal resolution by more systematically utilizing the dating potential of tephrochronology and radiocarbon dates at archaeological sites. It is hoped that future data may provide information about population movements and demography in Iceland, as well as answer questions why people settled in particular areas.

Magdalena Schmid is Ph.D. candidate at the University of Iceland. Her research focuses on the chronology of the Viking-Age settlement of Iceland. She is currently Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh where she is writing up her dissertation.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2016–2017

Sveinbjörn Rafnsson

Um Snorra Eddu og Munkagaman

Nokkur atriði úr menningarsögu íslenskra miðalda

Fimmtudaginn 1. desember 2016 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Sveinbjörn Rafnsson
Sveinbjörn Rafnsson

Rætt verður um Snorra Eddu sem talin er meðal höfuðrita íslenskrar menningar á miðöldum, texta hennar, hugmyndir um erkirit og gerðir hennar og innskot úr sögum í þeim. Þá verður drepið á byggingu Gylfaginningar og Skáldskaparmála í Eddu og heimildir sem ekki eru beinlínis nefndar í textum þeirra. Áður hefur verið bent á Trójumanna sögu og Elucidarius, en miklar líkur eru til þess að þar sé stuðst við fleiri rit sem tínd verða til, meðal annars Jórsalaferð Karlamagnúsar, Leiðarvísi Nikulásar ábóta, Munkagaman (Joca monachorum) og Þiðreks sögu af Bern.

Forsendur Eddu virðast einnig vera í fornri rím- og stjörnufræði. Rímbegla frá 12. öld er höfuðrit í fornum íslenskum tímatalsreikningi. Fornar þýðingar úr stjörnufræðiritum, sem verið hafa heimildir Rímbeglu, sýna að að dýrahringurinn (zodiacus) og grísk-rómverskar goðsögur hans hafa verið vel kunnar á 12. og 13. öld. Þá eru Trójumanna sögur og grísk-rómverskar goðsögulegar heimildir þeirra órækur vitnisburður um latínulærdóm og goðsögulega þekkingu. Allt sýnir þetta, ásamt Eddu sjálfri, að meðal forsendna hennar eru grísk-rómverskar goðsögur. Í Eddu virðast m.a. vera skopstældar (paródískar) goðsögur af norrænum og suðrænum toga, gerðar undir ægishjálmi kristindóms.

Munkagaman (Joca monachorum) virðist vera ein af mörgum ónefndum heimildum Eddu. Það er safn gátna eða fróðleiks frá ármiðöldum í gátuformi, um heiminn, sköpun hans og náttúru, viðburði í ritningunni og trúarleg og siðferðileg efni. Íslensk gerð Munkagamans, þýdd úr latínu á miðöldum, er til í ungum handritum, sem lítillega verður rætt um.

Sveinbjörn Rafnsson er prófessor emeritus í sagnfræði frá Háskóla Íslands. Hann hefur ritað margt um forna íslenska sögu, m.a. bækur um Landnámu, forna sagnaritun og fornar minjar auk fjölda greina um sama efni, íslenskar miðaldaheimildir og forn lög.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.