Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu 2018–2019

Dagskrá í öfugri tímaröð (nýjast efst):

Arngrímur Vídalín

Trójumenn á Thule

Goðsögulegar rætur Íslendinga

Fimmtudaginn 21. febrúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Arngrímur Vídalín

Íslenskar bókmenntir fyrri alda snúast að töluverðu leyti um sjálfsmyndarsköpun. Þær fjalla um forfeður Íslendinga, landnámsmenn, kappa og höfðingja, en ekki síður fjalla þær um uppruna Íslendinga allt aftur í fornöld. Þó nokkrir textar á forníslensku halda fram uppruna norræns samfélags í Tróju, oft með því að æsir undir stjórn Óðins hafi í raun verið brottfluttir Trójumenn í Skandinavíu, stundum með því að gefa í skyn að norrænu og grísk-rómversku guðirnir hafi verið hinir einu og sömu.

Klassíska arfleifðin sem Íslendingar gerðu að sinni virðist vera sprottin úr þeirri hefð Karlunga að réttlæta völd sín með goðsagnakenndri (heiðinni) ættfræði þrátt fyrir að þeir væru strangkristnir. Ný goðafræðileg hefð varð til þar sem leifar eldri trúarbragða eru nýttar og goð þeirra manngerð innan grundvallarskilnings kristilegrar heimsmyndar. Þessa nýju hefð ber ekki að kljúfa í heiðnar eða kristnar einingar heldur þarf að skilja þá heildarmynd hennar sem birtist okkur í heimildunum: sem smíði sjálfsmyndar og sögu þar sem grískir leiðtogar voru tilbeðnir sem guðir að grískri fyrirmynd og gátu síðan af sér ættir norrænu konunganna sem síðar tóku við hinum rétta kristna sið. Í þessum söguskilningi felst sú pólitíska afleiðing að Íslendingar eru álitnir fólk með göfugan uppruna og mikilfenglega menningararfleifð; með ættir konunga sem rekja má um goðsagnakennd heimsveldi til fyrsta mannsins: Adams, sem skapaður var af Guði sjálfum.

Þó að þetta efni varði sjálfan grundvöll íslenskrar sagnaritunar er það lítt rannsakað enn sem komið er. Í þessum fyrirlestri verður bókmenntafræðilegri og hugmyndasögulegri nálgun beitt til að skoða hvernig íslenskir miðaldamenn sköpuðu hugmynd um íslenskt sjálf og sögu með því að tileinka sér klassíska arfleifð og gera að sinni eigin.

Arngrímur Vídalín er doktor í íslenskum bókmenntum frá Háskóla Íslands. Hann hefur einkum beint sjónum að áhrifum evrópskra lærdómsrita á íslenskar miðaldabókmenntir, þ.m.t. á hugmyndir Íslendinga um skrímsl. Hann er nú sjálfstætt starfandi fræðimaður í ReykjavíkurAkademíunni og kennir íslensku við Keili háskólabrú.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

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Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Kyngreining á hrossum úr kumlum með forn-DNA

Hestar lagðir í kuml á Íslandi á víkingaöld

Fimmtudaginn 14. febrúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Hestar voru algengasta haugfé sem lagt var í kuml á Íslandi á víkingaöld. Beinagrindur hrossa er hægt að kyngreina á formi mjaðmagrindar og því hvort vígtennur eru til staðar. Vígtennur koma upp við 4-5 ára aldur í karldýrum en þó hafa rannsóknir sýnt að allt að þriðjungur hryssa getur haft vígtennur þó þær séu yfirleitt mun minni en í karldýrunum. Beinagreining hefur sýnt að öll hross sem hægt er að kyngreina úr íslenskum kumlum er úr karlkyns hestum en þar sem stór hluti þessara kumla fannst fyrir mörgum áratugum síðan við framkvæmdir eru beinagrindurnar oft of illa varðveittar til þess að hægt sé að kyngreina þær með vissu.

Í þessari rannsókn notum við forn-DNA-greiningu til að kyngreina 22 hross frá víkingaöld. 19 hross voru úr kumlum en þrjú bein úr hellum og býlum voru einnig greind. Rannsóknir okkar leiddu í ljós að af 19 hrossum úr kumlum sem greind voru reyndist aðeins vera ein hryssa en öll sýnin sem komu úr helli og býli reyndust vera hryssur.

Í greininni er einnig sýnt fram á að hægt er að kyngreina dýr jafnvel þó afar lítið sé varðveitt af DNA í hverju sýni og því má nota aðferðafræðina í greininni til að kyngreina fornleifafræðileg bein á mun stærri skala og fyrir minna fé en áður var talið.

Fjallað verður um niðurstöður í nýútkominni grein Heidi M. Nistelberger, Albínu Huldu Pálsdóttur, Bastiaan Star, Rúnars Leifssonar, Agötu T. Gondek, Ludovic Orlando, James H. Barrett, Jóns Hallsteins Hallssonar og Sanne Boessenkool „Sexing Viking Age horses from burial and non-burial sites in Iceland using ancient DNA,“ Journal of Archaeological Science 101 (2019), 115–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2018.11.007.

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir er dýrabeinafornleifafræðingur og starfar við Landbúnaðarháskóla Íslands. Hún er doktorsnemi við Óslóarháskóla en doktorsverkefni hennar heitir „Hestar og sauðfé víkinganna: Fornerfðafræði húsdýra í Norður-Atlantshafi“. Hún hefur greint dýrabeinasöfn frá Íslandi, Írlandi, Grænlandi og Færeyjum. Leiðbeinendur Albínu eru dr. Sanne Boessenkool við Óslóarháskóla, dr. Jón Hallsteinn Hallsson við Landbúnaðarháskóla Íslands og dr. Juha Kantanen hjá LUKE í Finnlandi. Verkefnið er styrkt af rannsóknasjóði Rannís á styrk nr. 162783051

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

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Romina Werth

Cinderella in the North

The Cinderella Paradigm in Laxdæla saga and Njáls saga

Fimmtudaginn 7. febrúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Romina Werth

Cinderella is probably the most popular fairy tale of all times, and has been innumerably adapted and translated within and across cultures. However, Cinderella is not only that one tale about a girl being persecuted by her evil stepmother and marrying a prince after fitting into a delicate slipper, which everybody tends to know or recognize. With its more than thousand variants disseminated throughout the world and with the oldest variants attested from Classical Antiquity, Cinderella is rather a whole tale cycle.

That Cinderella can also be detected in Old Norse literature has been shown by the British folklorist Marian Roalfe Cox as early as 1893. Cox claims Áslaug, daughter of the famous dragon slayer Sigurður in Ragnars saga loðbrókar, to be an early example of Cinderella. According to the Icelandic scholar Einar Ól. Sveinsson, the first recognizable Icelandic variant of this fairy tale is to be found in the chivalric saga Vilmundar saga viðutan, where a kitchen maid is named Öskubuska, which later became the Icelandic rendering of the name Cinderella.

However, no proper Cinderella has to that date been detected in the Sagas of Icelanders,
therefore, this presentation aims at showing how the Cinderella cycle or paradigm has been incorporated in Laxdæla saga and Njáls saga, sometimes with a considerable alteration of motifs in order to fit cultural and literary conventions.

Firstly, the paper focuses on the abducted Irish princess Melkorka in Laxdæla saga, who hides her identity and gets beaten with shoes. Melkorka as well as her illegitimate son Ólafur pái share common motifs belonging to the Cinderella cycle, where items known as recognition tokens play an important role. A more or less distorted adaptation of Melkorka may be found in Njáls saga, where the Irish slave Melkólfur almost loses a shoe after having convicted a crime and where oddly a chunk of cheese exposes the thief.

The paper offers a folkloristic-based reading of episodes of well-known saga texts with a focus on an international folktale pattern, which had been known and reworked in Iceland from the Middle Ages onwards.

Romina Werth holds an MA degree in Folkloristics and is currently a Ph.D. student in Icelandic literature and part-time teacher at the University of Iceland. Her research focuses on the fairy tale and its adaptation in Old Icelandic saga texts.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Seán Vrieland

Manuscript variation in a multilingual corpus

The case of Guta Saga

Fimmtudaginn 24. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Seán Vrieland

The criteria for selecting which textual variants in medieval texts preserved in manuscripts can be used for determining the relationships between these texts are rarely well defined and often more subjective than one might desire in a research context. Frequently the criteria for selecting (or deselecting) variants is language-specific; for example, the reversal of subject and verb in Old Icelandic (hann fór vs. fór hann) is considered minor variation and cannot be used as a main criterion for grouping manuscripts.

This matter becomes even more complicated when dealing with a text preserved in translation alongside the original language, for which the direct exemplar of the translated text is not always preserved.

Such is the case of Guta Saga, the thirteenth-century pseudohistorical narrative from Gotland best known from the manuscript Stockholm, National Library, B 64, the only complete copy in the original Old Gutnish language. However, the text is also preserved in translation in four manuscripts: one in German, one in Swedish, and two in Danish. Despite representing different branches of the text than that found in B 64, these manuscripts are rarely included in editions or discussions of Guta Saga.

This paper discusses the variation found in Chapter 2 of Guta Saga (the only chapter present in every manuscript) as an example of how to determine what types of variants can be considered significant when working with a multilingual corpus. It will be shown that much variation can be considered language-specific, and therefore not significant when building a corpus. On the other hand, some forms of variation – especially lexical – can be used in determining whether a translation was made directly from the original language of the text (in this case, Old Gutnish) or via a third language.

Finally, it will be show that, in order to understand the life of a medieval text, one must also take translations into account.

Seán Vrieland is a post-doc at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, where he received his PhD in 2018. His current project focuses on the language and paleography of Old Danish charters, while his broader research interests include linguistics and philology of the Nordic languages, especially Old East Norse.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Tim W. Machan

“Stories That Make Things Real”

Fimmtudaginn 10. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Beeke Stegmann

Malleable Manuscripts

Structural Alteration of Artefacts in the Arnamagnæan Collection

Fimmtudaginn 22. nóvember 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Natalie Van Deusen

„Í dyggðum skær“

St. Agnes of Rome in Post-Reformation Iceland

Fimmtudaginn 15. nóvember 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Haki Antonsson

Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature

Fimmtudaginn 8. nóvember 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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).

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Silvia Hufnagel

Title Pages in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Icelandic Manuscripts

Fimmtudaginn 25. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Sabine Heidi Walther

Romancing Troy in Iceland?

On the Ormsbók Version of Trójumanna saga

Þriðjudaginn 23. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Viðar Pálsson

Der König ist tot, es lebe der König!

Konungur í tvennum líkama og á faraldsfæti

Fimmtudaginn 18. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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 réð 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

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Sverrir Tómasson

Ormsbók og riddaramennt Skarðverja

Fimmtudaginn 4. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

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Sverrir Jakobsson

Hvernig skal Krist kenna?

Nútímasagnaritun um forna sögu

Fimmtudaginn 27. september 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 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).

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

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Kate Heslop

Ynglingatal: death in place

Fimmtudaginn 20. september 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Kate Heslop

Ynglingatal ‘Enumeration of the Ynglingar’ is a poem that we think we know—a genealogy that presents the Yngling kings as a bizarre collection of bumblers, prone to avenging sparrows, getting shut into rocks, and falling overboard. Medieval sources attribute it to the famous Norwegian skald Þjóðólfr of Hvin, composing in the late ninth or early tenth century for the obscure Rǫgnvaldr heiðumhár, who seems to have been a ruler in the borderland between the Christian Danish kingdom and the small polities of southeastern Norway. Its stanzas are transmitted in Heimskringla as the poetic backbone of the narrative of Ynglinga saga.

In my talk, I will argue that viewing Ynglingatal in the context of other poetry in the kviðuháttr metre—the metre of around 15% of the lines in the skaldic corpus, including such important encomia as Þórarinn loftunga’s Glælognskviða (c. 1032) and Sturla Þórðarson’s Hákonarkviða, from the 1260s— suggests alternative perspectives on the poem that may accord better with Ynglingatal’s place in literary history. In particular, I will explore what it could mean to turn from reading Ynglingatal as a genealogy, to reading it as an itinerary, and discuss the role that places and monuments play in its memorial rhetoric. My talk will conclude by considering Þjóðólfr’s claim to mediate memory of the distant past in the light of contemporary memorial practices in other media, in order to throw light on the evolving social institution of the skald in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Kate Heslop is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Scandinavian, UC Berkeley, where she teaches Old Norse literature. Her doctorate is from the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on the poetry of Viking and medieval Scandinavia. She is a contributing editor to the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages project.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Simon Halink

A Story of Many Snorris

The Long Afterlife of Snorri Sturluson in the Cultural Memory of Scandinavia

Fimmtudaginn 13. september 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Simon Halink

Few Icelanders have been the subject of so much praise and slander as the medieval writer, poet and chieftain Snorri Sturluson in the nearly eight centuries since his death. Already the medieval sources present the reader with an ambiguous image of a man, who was simultaneously a brilliant scholar and a great political strategist, but also a betrayer of his people and a puppet of the Norwegian king. In this presentation, I will chart the posthumous reception, or the afterlife of a man who was, as Tim Machan stated in a recent publication, so important, that he “would have to have been invented if he had not lived”. Especially his History of the Norwegian Kings (Heimskringla) and the Prose Edda attributed to him have determined the image of ancient Scandinavia well beyond his native Iceland. Yet, Snorri’s rise to prominence is by no means self-evident, and did not begin until several centuries after his death. What is easily forgotten, is that Snorri was not always considered the ‘greatest of all Scandinavian geniuses’, nor was his legacy (both literary and political) always received in a positive light. It is my intention to demonstrate how processes of secular canonisation, and nationally inspired veneration which developed around his persona and his (presumed) oeuvre in the course of the long nineteenth century (entailing the establishment of a corpus and the organisation of commemorations, among other things) could transform the memory of a long-dead medieval poet like Snorri into an instrument for articulating cultural identities in modernity. In order to do so, I will examine the profoundly ambivalent and divergent images of Snorri Sturluson in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and in the context of more universal discourses, while focussing on an intricate ‘traitor-hero complex’ that many of these narratives appear to revolve around. How does Snorri’s role in the cultural memory of the Scandinavians differ from country to country? And how can this divergence of modern receptions be explained in the context of national identity formation?

Simon Halink is a cultural historian specialized in the study of nationalism,  currently conducting his postdoctoral research at the University of Iceland. In 2017, he took his Ph.D. at the University of Groningen, where he studied the cultivation of Old Norse mythology in modern Icelandic nationalism.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Jesse Byock

Archaeology, Sagas, the Mosfell Excavations, and the Early Maritime History of the Reykjavík Area

Fimmtudaginn 30. ágúst 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Jesse Byock

This talk presents an overview of the Mosfell Archaeological Project (MAP) and focuses on recent findings. It reviews excavations in Leiruvogur Bay at the coastal mouth of Mosfellsdalur and at Hrísbrú, the farmstead of the Mosfell chieftains. These two Viking Age sites formed a 10th-century Icelandic harbor and inland administrative unit. MAP is a interdisciplinary archaeological project, employing the tools of history, anthropology, environmental sciences, forensics, botanics, and saga studies. We are researching human adaptions, social development, and environmental change in the Mosfellsdalur region. Our sites extend into the surrounding highlands and on the lowland coastal areas. We define this geographic and social community as a “valley system” that took shape immediately following Iceland’s 9th-century landnám or settlement. MAP is developing through excavation and associated research a concept of ‘Valley System Archaeology,’ that is especially suited to Icelandic and North Atlantic sites.
I will discuss the Viking Age harbor at Leiruvogur, a finding that may adjust the early historical understanding of the Reykjavík area. The Leiruvogur harbor complex and the Hrísbrú site have been generally overlooked by archaeologists and historians. Based on our recent archaeology, I propose that the inner Leiruvogur lagoon was the major regional harbor in this part of Faxaflói Bay. Control of the Leiruvogur harbor gave the Mosfell chieftains regional influence over the inner nesses. The harbor also connected Mosfellsdalur and the surrounding community to the wider Viking world, and MAP’s artifact findings show connections with regions as far away as Turkmenestan in Central Asia.

At Hrísbrú, we have unearthed the farmstead of the Mosfell chieftains, the home of the lawspeaker Grímur Svertingsson, the warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson, and the chieftain Önundur and his son Hrafn. The archaeologicall finds include a large, exceptionally well-preserved longhouse from Iceland’s settlement period, a pagan cremation site, a conversion-era stave church, an early Christian graveyard, and stone ship-like monuments. The mortuary practices discovered in Mosfellsdalur show a mixed pagan and Christian community. In many ways, the excavations are providing new evidence of early Icelandic life.

Jesse Byock is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and UCLA’s Scandinavian Section. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the Director of the Mosfell Archaeological Project (MAP). For the past several years, he has been at Háskóli Íslands affiliated with the Sagnfræðideild and the program in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies. Prof. Byock is author or translator of Viking Age Iceland (Penguin), Grettir’s Saga (Oxford), The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin), The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin), Feud in the Icelandic Saga (University of California Press), The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin), Islande des Vikings (Aubier Flammarion) and The Viking Language Series (Jules William Press). With Davide Zori he edited, Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaeological Project (Brepols). The later presents the research of the Mosfell team.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.