Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Tim W. Machan

“Stories That Make Things Real”

Thursday, January 10, 2019, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Tim W. Machan

The impact of medieval Norse literature on later English literature and culture is a story well-told by McKinnell, McTurk, Wawn, Clunies Ross, Jón Helgason, and others. This talk seeks, then, not to rehearse, much less try to expand on, this well-established story. Instead, it positions literary activity and its representations in relation to the other ways by which an Anglo-Scandinavian memory was fashioned beginning in the early modern period and continuing into the nineteenth century. These include travelogues, ethnography, mythography, historiography, assessments of morality, and language studies. Since stories and fictional figures can be more easily epitomized and remembered than social or psychological abstractions, they can function more readily as decontextualized tropes — mnemonics that operate irrespectively of any historical specifics. Early English ethnographers’ cultivation of an Asiatic Óðinn did just this. What adds to the explanatory and emotive force of a myth like this one, or Snorri’s much re-used account of Þόrr spending a night in the giant Skrýmir’s mitten, is that it can take along with it less obvious memories of racial and ethnic identity. It is not coincidental, then, that the greatest impact of medieval Nordic literature on English literature, and so on discussions of the connections between them, should be post-medieval, when such broader cultural memories were themselves being actively constructed in the formation of the United Kingdom.

The talk will open with a discussion of competing Nordic and English uses of Scandinavian mythology — specifically of English appropriation of the Poetic Edda to help in the reconstruction of putatively lost Anglo-Saxon myths. It will then consider how the sagas provided nineteenth-century travelers with the inspiration to visit Iceland and to talk about the details of the lost medieval world that they could find there. In effect, the Edda, mapped by the sagas, inspired trips to the English past. The final portion of the lecture will turn to William Morris as an illustration of the ways in which literature could substantiate memories of an Anglo-Scandinavian past.

Tim W. Machan (PhD, Wisconsin, 1984) is Professor of English and a Fellow of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame. Focusing on Norse, Latin, and French as well as English, his research and teaching explore the interplay physical documents, multilingualism, and cultural memory.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Beeke Stegmann

Malleable Manuscripts

Structural Alteration of Artefacts in the Arnamagnæan Collection

Thursday, November 22, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Beeke Stegmann

In this lecture, Beeke Stegmann discusses how Árni Magnússon (1663-1730), the famous founder of the Arnamagnæan Collection, not only assembled and stored Icelandic and Scandinavian manuscripts but also physically rearranged the artefacts. In order to facilitate his significant scholarly activities, Árni Magnússon systematically changed the structure of the manuscripts in his collection. First, larger codices were divided into smaller parts containing one to three texts each. Then he recombined the units to form new manuscripts of varying sizes.

The extent and significance of rearrangements in the Arnamagnæan Collection have long been underestimated. Upon closer investigation, however, many traces of Árni Magnússon’s structural alterations can be seen. The lecture describes the basic steps for identifying such changes in manuscripts with the help of examples from the collection.

Heretofore, Árni Magnússon’s rearrangements of paper manuscripts from the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries have received the most attention, as the traces of alteration are fairly obvious. New research indicates that Árni treated parchment manuscripts in a similar way, despite the fact that he had a special appreciation for artefacts made of that material. The trademark traces of his alterations are equally present in some parchment manuscripts, meaning that his preference for older artefacts did not prevent Árni Magnússon from structurally altering them.

Beeke Stegmann is a post-doc at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, where she received her PhD in 2017. She studies the origin and provenance of Scandinavian manuscripts and charters, but also has an interest in digital editions.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Natalie Van Deusen

“Í dyggðum skær”

St. Agnes of Rome in Post-Reformation Iceland

Thursday, November 15, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Natalie Van Deusen

The legend of St. Agnes, the thirteen-year-old Christian virgin who was martyred in Rome in 304 CE, survives in three Old Norse prose redactions, all of which are translations of the Pseudo-Ambrosian Passio Agnetis. Agnes was the co-patron of two churches in medieval Iceland, and hers was a Holy Day of Obligation during the country’s Catholic period; her prose legend, like those of the other virgin martyrs, seems to have been especially popular among women in religious orders, for whom the legends of virgins probably had their largest audience. There are also several poetic renderings of the legend of St. Agnes in Iceland, both from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The earliest of these, “Agnesardiktur” (ca. 1300-1550), is extant in thirteen manuscripts dating from the beginning of the eighteenth century. Next is a rímnaflokkur, “Agnesarrímur,” composed in the seventeenth century by Rev. Eiríkur Hallson í Höfða (1614-1698) for his friend’s young daughter, Hólmfríður Benediksdóttir; the rímur in four fits are extant in only one manuscript. “Agnesarkvæði,” allegedly composed ca. 1725 by Þorvaldur Magnússon, seems to have enjoyed widespread popularity, and is found in over one hundred manuscripts and audio recordings in Iceland and Canada. One of the manuscripts preserving “Agnesarkvæði,” Lbs 2286 4to (1892-93), also preserves a fourth and (to this point) unknown poem by an anonymous author, “Agnesarvísa,” a single stanza recorded from the memory of the same woman on whom the manuscript’s compiler, Sighvatur Grímsson Borgfirðingur (1840-1930) relied on for his transcription of “Agnesarkvæði.” This talk discusses the three post medieval Agnes poems, including the hitherto undiscussed one-stanza “Agnesarvísa.” It focuses on the way in which the three poems treat the legend, and examines their sources, interrelationship, transmission, and dissemination.

Natalie Van Deusen is Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, where she teaches Scandinavian language, literature, and culture. Her research interests include Old Norse paleography and philology, manuscript culture, hagiography and religious literature, and gender studies.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Haki Antonsson

Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature

Thursday, November 8, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Haki Antonsson

The lecture will introduce the author’s recently published monograph Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature. Studies in Old Norse Literature (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2018). The hope of salvation and the fear of damnation were fundamental features of medieval life. Surprisingly therefore this topic has received relatively limited attention in Old Norse study. Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature addresses this gap in the scholarship by adopting two main principal investigative approaches. One involves examining how the twin theme interacts with more familiar strands such as disputes and outlawry. The second explores how the theme shapes texts at the level of individual scenes and whole works. The study is less occupied with whether the twin theme holds the ‘key’ to unlock the meaning of certain texts and more with how it combines with other themes to reveal structural features and narrative patterns. It is argued that similar patterns and features reoccur throughout the corpus, albeit in a variety of ways reflecting the historical and literary contexts of a given text. The examined corpus includes Njáls saga, Laxdæla saga, Gísla saga Súrssonar, Grettis saga Ásmundarsonar, Sturlunga saga, the texts on King Óláfr Tryggvason, as well as the poems Sólarljóð and Harmsól.

Haki Antonsson is Associate Professor in Medieval Scandinavian Studies at University College London. His research focuses on the history and literature of Scandinavia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Previous publications include St Magnús of Orkney: A Scandinavian Martyr-Cult in Context (Leiden: Brill 2007) and (with Ildar Garipzanov) Saints on the Periphery: Veneration of Saints in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe (c. 1000-1200) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

—o—

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Silvia Hufnagel

Title Pages in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Icelandic Manuscripts

Thursday, October 25, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Silvia Hufnagel

The new medium of print came around 1530 to Iceland but it was mostly religious and liturgical works that were printed due to the ecclesiastical ownership of the island’s sole printing press. This situation led to a certain dichotomy between the choices of medium in relationship to content.

Even though this division of media according to text type existed in Iceland, the two media influenced each other. The earliest printed books were strongly influenced by handwritten manuscripts, but as time went on, books developed their own design and layout and in turn influenced manuscripts. In post-medieval Icelandic manuscripts we thus find features of printed books, for example title pages, which were a novelty of print.

In this presentation, Silvia Hufnagel will present some of the results from her Marie Skłodowska Curie Project on title pages in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Icelandic manuscripts, conducted from 2015 to 2017 at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. She will focus on, first, the distribution of title pages over time, in different textual genres and within the book block of manuscripts, second, on the earliest title pages in the sixteenth century and, third, on title pages in both hymn manuscripts and saga manuscripts.

Most title pages, and all of the earliest title pages, are found in non-fictional genres, particularly computistic, religious-edifying and scientific texts and are a testament to the close connections between print and manuscript. The innovation of the title page came furthermore “top down”, as the scribes of the earliest title pages belonged to or were affiliated with the highest echelons of society. A surprisingly large number of title pages is found in the middle or towards the end of the book block, dividing either different parts of a compilation or text from register.

Hymn manuscripts often contain title pages. They hardly ever refer to the printed medium, though, even if they were copied from books, but rather mention the medium of reception. Although the – much rarer – title pages of saga manuscripts often mention the entertainment value of the sagas, they often invoke the glorious past that is depicted in the texts. They contain many rhetorical elements, such as accumulatio. As such, they are proof of the scribes’ and patrons’ learned environment, an environment that most certainly included printed works, even though the saga title pages do not mention them directly.

Silvia Hufnagel conducts research in the sociology of literature, manuscript studies and paper history. After her Marie Skłodowska Curie scholarship in Austria, she is now part of the project “Paper Trails: A Material History of 16th and 17th Century Icelandic Books from Paper Production to Library Collection” at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Sabine Heidi Walther

Romancing Troy in Iceland?

On the Ormsbók Version of Trójumanna saga

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Sabine Heidi Walther

Translated texts play an important role at the beginning of literacy in the vernaculars in the European Middle Ages. The process towards literacy is initiated by the arrival and then propagation of Christianity. Translation, however, did not only serve as a means to promote the new religion, it kept being an important tool for the import of cultural goods. In my talk, I will present some of the results of my Marie Skłodowska-Curie project that was hosted by the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen (2015-2017). The project focuses on the Old Norse Trójumanna saga, a historiographical text on the fall of Troy translated from Latin into Old Norse.

While it seems plausible to assume that translations might have had a function as literary models, one might also ask about the socio-cultural motivations and functions: Were the Icelanders only interested in importing the common matters which were in fashion everywhere in Europe? Or did they also import new concepts that came with the texts? And if so, how were they translated and transformed for the audience? Is it possible that some people even used certain texts to promote their political agenda? Who were those people? Where and who were their contacts?

The Ormsbók version of Trójumanna saga will serve as an example in my talk. This version can be considered the ‘romance version’ of the saga. How was this chivalric text achieved? Are secondary French sources responsible for it? Is it possible to place this text in Iceland? Who would be interested in it? Whose political agenda would it serve?

Sabine Heidi Walther is teaching and researching as “wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin” at the University of Bonn. She earned an MA in Medieval Latin and Classics from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Bonn. She recently finished a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen. She is interested in the cultural and literary transfer to Scandinavia, in historiography and mythology, in cultural memory and narratology.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Viðar Pálsson

Der König ist tot, es lebe der König!

Konungur í tvennum líkama og á faraldsfæti

Thursday, October 18, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Viðar Pálsson

Á hámiðöldum klæddist konungur tvennum líkama og tóku fjárreiður hans mið af því. Í fyrirlestrinum verður fjallað um fjárhagsgrundvöll konungs, hvernig hann gerðist stórjarðeigandi sem þó réði næsta minnstu um meðferð jarðeigna sinna, og hvernig hann át upp skatta sína á ferð um konungdæmið ásamt hirð sinni. Hinn tvöfaldi líkami konungs kom reyndar fram í nánu samhengi við vöxt og viðgang ríkisvalds og varð snar þáttur í þróun sem leiddi til þess að konungur tók að ferðast minna um konungdæmi sitt en áður og innheimta skatta með öðrum hætti. Áberandi þættir þessarar þróunar verða ræddir í fyrirlestrinum, t.d. eignarréttur á há- og síðmiðöldum, upphaf krúnugóss konunga, sem svo var kallað, og hlutverk formlegra valdasambanda sem birtust í merkingarbærum athöfnum, ritúölum, í vitna viðurvist.

Noregskonungar eru í brennidepli en einnig Frankakonungar og Þýskalandskeisari. Reifaðar verða rannsóknir á evrópsku konungsvaldi sem gagnast við lestur á konungasögum og túlkun konungsvalds í Noregi á miðöldum.

Viðar Pálsson er dósent í sagnfræði við Háskóla Íslands. Rannsóknarsvið hans er evrópsk og norræn miðaldasaga, einkum há- og síðmiðalda. Hann er höfundur bókarinnar Language of Power: Feasting and Gift-Giving in Medieval Iceland and Its Sagas (2016), þar sem meðal annars er fjallað um konungsvald.

The talk will be delivered in Icelandic. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Sverrir Tómasson

Ormsbók og riddaramennt Skarðverja

Thursday, October 4, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Sverrir Tómasson

Orðið riddaramennt er haft um margvíslega menntun riddara hér á landi undir lok 14. aldar og á 15. öld. Menntin snýst ekki aðeins um burtreiðar, turniment, heldur líka um klæðaburð, borðsiði, siðfágun, mataræði og ástir. Samkvæmt elstu norrænu riddarabókmentunum skyldi riddarinn, sem yfirleitt var karlmaður, hafa til að bera ákveðnar dygðir sem oftast má rekja til siðfræði Cicerós. Þetta eru þó mjög kristilegar dygðir, riddarinn skyldi elska föður sinn og móður, sýna staðfestu og hóf og gera það eitt sem gott þykir. Riddarinn skyldi vera fagur álitum, ríkur, áburðarmaður og metnaðargjarn. Guðs riddari var sá sem gerði það eitt sem guði var þóknanlegt; hann var hluti af himneskri hirðsveit. Riddari gat sá einn orðið sem var aðalsmaður af ætt og sökum sinnislags var líka aðalsmaður. Um hann gilti að fagur riddari var bonus corporis og sýndi líka bona fortuna, en í öllu atferli sínu birtist stöðugt togstreita milli ástar og hugrekkis eða drengskapar. Skarðverjar voru allflestir riddarar, sumir svo gamlir í þeim búningi, að þeir höfðu verið dubbaðir upp í þá tign á dögum Hákonar háleggs á öndverðri 14. öld. En hvaða skyldur gengu þeir undir þegar þeir gerðust hirðmenn Noregskonungs — með öðrum orðum hvernig var riddaramennt þeirra háttað?

Sverrir Tómasson er prófessor emeritus við Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum. Eftir hann liggja fjölmörg fræðirit og útgáfur, þ. á m. doktorsritgerðin, Formálar íslenskra sagnaritara á miðöldum (1988), Nikulás sögur erkibyskups, Helgastaðabók 1982 og Pipraðir páfuglar 2017. Sverrir hefur gefið út Íslendinga sögur I-III 1987, Sturlunga sögu I-III 1988, Bósa sögu og Herrauðs 1996 og Heilagra karla sögur 2007. Hann vinnur nú að riti um íslenskar rómönsur og útgáfu á öllum gerðum af Nikulás sögu erkibyskups.

The talk will be delivered in Icelandic. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Sverrir Jakobsson

Hvernig skal Krist kenna?

Nútímasagnaritun um forna sögu

Thursday, September 27, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Sverrir Jakobsson

Jesús Kristur er einn kunnasti, áhrifamesti og umdeildasti einstaklingur í sögu mannkyns. Saga hans hefur verið sögð oft og mörgum sinnum enda er hún undirstaða hugmynda fólks um trú, siðfræði, réttlæti og líf eftir dauðann í mörgum löndum víða um heim. Saga Jesú er mikilvægur hluti af menningu kristinna manna og hefur verið það í tæplega 2000 ár. Samfélag nútímans hvílir hins vegar í æ ríkari mæli á öðrum gildum og hugmyndum en hinum kristnu. Hvernig er hægt að segja þessa fornu sögu með nýjum hætti í upphafi 21. aldar? Er hægt að fjalla um sögu kristni á öðrum forsendum en trúarlegum? Hvernig getur sagnfræðingur nálgast á hlutlausan hátt persónu sem margir líta á sem guð og hefur mótað líf flestra sem kennivald og fyrirmynd?

Hér er ætlunin að ræða hvaða merkingu sagan um Krist hefur frá sjónarmiði almennrar mannkynssögu og hugmyndasögu. Reynt verður að greina þróunarsögu þessarar hugmyndar út frá kenningum um menningarlegt minni, sem fræðimenn á borð við Jan og Aleidu Assmann hafa skilgreint. Hvaða máli skipta þær hugmyndir sem ríkjandi voru innan Rómarveldis þegar sagan um Krist kom fyrst fram? Hvaða áhrif hafði það að sagan um Krist varð til innan samfélags og menningar Gyðinga í Palestínu? Af hverju er myndin af Kristi mismunandi í ólíkum heimildum sem urðu til um hann strax á fyrstu öld? Hvernig þróuðust þær í framhaldinu og af hverju? Að hvaða leyti getur textafræðin varpað ljósi á þróunarsögu hugmyndarinnar um Krist?

Einnig verður rétt hvernig hugmyndir um Krist tóku á sig staðlaða mynd og sum rit um ævi hans hlutu almenna viðurkenningu en öðrum hafnað. Eftir að kristni hlaut opinbera stöðu innan Rómarveldis breyttist eðli trúarinnar og ríkari krafa var gerð um staðlaða trúarjátningu og samræmingu hugmynda um Krist. Hófst þá klofningur kristinna manna í rétttrúaða og villutrúarmenn sem síðan hefur mótað sögu þeirra. Vikið verður að ýmsum vandamálum sem tengjast hugtökunum rétttrúnaður og villutrú og bent á sögulegt afstæði þeirra þar sem hugmyndir sem skiptu gríðarlega miklu máli voru síðar fordæmdar sem villutrú. Tekin verða nokkur dæmi um klofning kristinna manna sem höfðu mikla pólitíska þýðingu á sínum tíma og mótuðu alla sögu samfélaga þeirra í framhaldinu.

Sverrir Jakobsson er prófessor í miðaldasögu við Háskóla Íslands og höfundur bókarinnar Kristur. Saga hugmyndar (2018).

The talk will be delivered in Icelandic. All are welcome to attend.

Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Miðaldastofa Háskóla Íslands og Samtök móðurmálskennara

SAGATID

Henrik Poulsen og Merete Stenum Nielsen
kynna Sagatid.dk — vef um íslenskar fornbókmenntir.

Mánudaginn 24. september 2018 kl. 16.30
Stofu 311 í Árnagarði í Háskóla Íslands

SAGATID er ætlað að blása nýju lífi í kennslu íslenskra fornbókmennta á Norðurlöndum. Vefurinn varpar ljósi á þann jarðveg sem Íslendingasögurnar eru sprottnar úr, bókmenntalegt gildi þeirra og tungutak. Vefurinn sýnir jafnframt hvernig þessar bókmenntir höfða til okkar í nútímanum í gegnum túlkun norrænna nútímahöfunda á völdum köflum og verkum norrænna ljósmyndara sem mynda valda sögustaði.

Miðaldastofa Háskóla Íslands og Samtök móðurmálskennara boða til fundar mánudaginn 24. september kl. 16.30 í stofu 311 í Árnagarði í Háskóla Íslands þar sem Henrik Poulsen og Merete Stenum Nielsen kynna vefinn Sagatid.dk. Allir áhugamenn um íslenskar fornbókmenntir velkomnir.

Henrik Poulsen cand.mag. er kennslubókahöfundur og ritstjóri og hefur sent frá sér meira en fjörutíu kennslubækur.

Merete Stenum Nielsen er verkefnisstjóri og ritstjóri hjá Sagatid.dk og víðar.

Fundurinn fer fram á dönsku og ensku. Allir velkomnir.

http://www.sagatid.dk