Mánaðarskipt færslusafn fyrir: nóvember 2014

Strengleikar

Andrea Maraschi

Food is language

Utopias and daily basic needs in the Middle Ages

Þriðjudaginn 25. nóvember 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 422

Andrea Maraschi
Andrea Maraschi

Food was a fundamental element in many symbolic linguistic codes of the past, and this was particularly evident in medieval times. Judaic-Christian culture, just like Greek-Roman, Celtic and Norse mythologies, amongst the others, show that one of the common traits of ancient cults was the typology of their “lexicon”: food parables and allegories; the idea of a paradise with an everlasting summer, where food is available for everyone, forever; the connection between gods, natural forces and, as a consequence, abundance or lack of food, fecundity or famine. The success and effectiveness of this “food language” depended on its universal and dynamic essence: everybody could understand, memorize and spread it with basically no risk of misinterpretation. Just because the target crowds of such religious cults were mainly formed of illiterates, linguistic codes based on familiar elements (bread, wine, ale, cattle, agriculture, fishing, cooking, etc.) were undoubtedly the most suitable, pragmatic and handy ones to use. In hindsight, the “food language” can also be studied as a historical source which lets us know many aspects about food cultures of the Middle Ages, from the fear of hunger to “civilizing plants”. This lecture will cover the use of the food language as a response to people’s worry of death and the unknown, but also to their practical everyday needs, so as to get a glimpse of their mentality.

Andrea Maraschi is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iceland where he studies the symbolic meaning of food in medieval cultures. He holds a BA degree in Modern Humanities, an MA degree in Medieval History and a Ph.D. in Medieval History, all from the University of Bologna.

Landnám Íslands

05 Landnám Gudlaugur og Elisabeth.002

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Guðlaugur Rúnar Guðmundsson

Elstu nafngiftir á Innnesjum við Faxaflóa

Fimmtudaginn 20. nóvember 2014 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

Gudlaugur Runar Gudmundsson
Guðlaugur Rúnar Guðmundsson

Hinir fornu hreppar með Sundum við Faxaflóa, Seltjarnarneshreppur og Álftaneshreppur, voru áður fyrr kallaðir saman Innnes og íbúarnir Innnesingar. Íbúar Innnesja voru kallaðir ýmsum nöfnum. Þekktustu nöfnin voru Hraunamenn, Álftnesingar og Seltirningar. Höfuðborgarsvæðið, þar sem flestir Íslendingar búa, er nú að mestu í landi þessara fornu hreppa.

Fjallað verður um elstu heimildir um örnefni á Innnesjum og það landnámsmynstur sem lesa má út frá heitunum. Í þessum efnum eru Íslendingar vel staddir því að merkilegar fornar ritaðar heimildir styðja tilurð fjölmargra heitanna og má þá sérstaklega nefna Landnámu. Hún er okkur bjart leiðarljós og vísbending um upprunann. Nafnamynstrið skýrir að nokkru hvernig landnáms-menn tóku á vandanum og ögruninni í ónumdu landi. Nefna má nýtingu landgæða, bústaðaval og leiðakerfi.

Stuðst verður við loftmyndir, kort og ljósmyndir sem höfundur hefur safnað og unnið með við rannsóknir á kennimerkjum á Innnesjasvæðinu. Reynt verður að nýta rannsóknir á fjölmörgum fræðisviðum til þess að fá skýrari mynd af viðfangsefninu. Sagnfræði, jarðfræði, fornleifafræði og veðurfræði koma að góðum notum í þessum efnum.

Örnefnin segja margt um uppruna frumbyggjanna sem gáfu kennileitunum nafn á sinni tungu. Hugsunaháttur og lífssýn landnámsmannanna á Innnesjum skýrist fyrir okkur þegar við reynum að setja okkur í spor þeirra. Það sem veitir okkur Íslendingum sérstöðu er að við tölum að mestu sömu tungu og þeir sem gáfu kennimerkjunum heiti. Samhengið er órofið milli aldanna.

Guðlaugur Rúnar Guðmundsson er sjálfstætt starfandi sagnfræðingur. Rannsóknir hans lúta einkum að skólasögu fyrri alda á Íslandi og nafnfræði höfuðborgarsvæðisins.

— o —

Elisabeth Ida Ward

Landkunnátta: Place versus space

Fimmtudaginn 20. nóvember 2014 kl. 16.30
Odda 101

elisabeth-ward-090-9-10-13 copy
Elisabeth Ida Ward

In Ari inn fróði’s account of the settlement of Iceland, the impression is given that the top priority of the landnámsmenn is to fix Iceland within contemporary European intellectual constructs — legal, chronological, and spatial. Although logically compelling, this narrative of creating order out of chaos suggests an objective attitude of the settlers towards the Icelandic landscape, a desire to impose structures from without. However, such an attitude would be anomalous within a late-9th century context, when the supposed origin-culture—Viking Age Scandinavia—was exhibiting a strong preference for subjective, intimate, experiential respect for landscape as place. The question therefore emerges if traces of a phenomenological, place-based mindset can be uncovered for the early settlers in Iceland. This presentation summarizes the author’s efforts and methods to uncover such evidence in the Icelandic archeological record and in saga accounts. The archaeological project analyzed native stones found in pagan burial contexts, and the literary project looked at phenomenological representations of landscape in a selection of saga accounts. Other recent archaeological findings in Iceland, and tales from Landnámabók, are combined with these projects to suggest that the landnámsmenn fostered a significant sense of subjective place. Although an orientation toward the landscape as place does not necessarily exclude efforts to fix landscape into external spatial categories, it is important to recognize the phenomenological predilections in the landnámsmenn in order to better analyze the choices they made during the settlement process and later.

Elisabeth Ida Ward is Director of the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University. She works at the intersection between archaeology, anthropology, and saga studies, first as the Assistant Curator for the Smithsonian’s Viking exhibition in 2000, and more recently for her dissertation from UC Berkeley on Þórðar saga hreðu.

Strengleikar

Arngrímur Vídalín

Skal ek fásk við blámann yðvarn

Merking orðsins blámaður og birtingarmyndir blámanna frá upphafi ritaldar og fram á 19. öld

Fimmtudaginn 13. nóvember 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 422

Arngrímur Vídalín
Arngrímur Vídalín

Blámenn koma víða fyrir í íslenskum miðaldaheimildum og í ýmsu samhengi. Sumar sagnir af blámönnum eiga sameiginleg minni þó að árhundruð skilji að meðan aðrar nefna þá aðeins sem óskilgreindan hóp fólks. Enn önnur tilfelli standa ein sér og mörg þeirra eru fengin úr evrópskum lærdómsritum, svo sem úr Orðsifjum heilags Ísidórs frá Sevilla.

Jafnan hefur verið gengið að því sem vísu að orðið blámaður merki alltaf það sama: svartan mann eða Afríkumann. Þegar nánar er að gætt er veruleikinn flóknari og reynist orðið blámaður um margt deila merkingu með orðinu tröll, þótt hið síðarnefnda sé óræðara og blámenn þó nokkuð afmarkaðri persónur en tröll. Þrátt fyrir nokkuð lífseiga kreddu verða blámenn fyrri alda þó hvorki skilgreindir út frá húðlit né afmarkaðir við tiltekinn heimshluta svo vel sé; það gerist á síðari öldum. Þvert á móti sýna dæmin að blámenn eru illskilgreinanleg stærð í íslenskum miðaldabókmenntum.

Í fyrirlestrinum verður drepið á ýmis dæmi um blámenn í miðaldasögum, alfræðiritum og þjóðsögum og leitast við að varpa nokkru ljósi á margbreytileika þeirra og ólíka merkingu orðsins eftir samhengi, með samanburði við evrópskar heimildir þar sem við á.

Arngrímur Vídalín er cand.mag. í norrænum fræðum frá Árósaháskóla. Hann leggur nú stund á doktorsnám í íslenskum bókmenntum fyrri alda. Rannsóknarverkefninu er ætlað að skýra lærðar hugmyndir um skrímsli í heimsmynd Íslendinga frá upphafi ritaldar fram að siðskiptum.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku en ensk þýðing á glærum verður aðgengileg.
The lecture will be delivered in Icelandic, but an English rendering of the slides will be made available.

Strengleikar

Natalie Van Deusen

Remnants of Catholicism

The Saints in Early Modern Icelandic Poetry

Þriðjudaginn 11. nóvember 2014 kl. 16.30
Árnagarði 422

Natalie Van Deusen copy
Natalie Van Deusen

The past few decades have witnessed a veritable renaissance of academic interest in Old Norse-Icelandic hagiography, or saints’ lives from medieval Iceland. However, the Old Norse-Icelandic saints’ lives treated in recent scholarship are almost exclusively prose ones, and medieval Icelandic hagiographic poetry—which constitute a much larger corpus of Icelandic hagiographic texts overall—has remained virtually untouched, as have the hundreds of extant poems about saints from early modern Iceland. Indeed, the little that exists of secondary and reference literature on medieval and early modern Icelandic religious poetry is outdated (mostly from the first half of the twentieth century), and in desperate need of revision to meet the needs of students and scholars today.

The Legends of the Saints in Old Norse and Early Modern Icelandic Poetry, which I am co-writing with Professor Kirsten Wolf (University of Wisconsin-Madison), seeks to renew scholarly interest in this genre of Icelandic literature by providing a thorough guide to all Old Norse and early modern Icelandic poetic saints’ lives in a bibliographic format. The book is intended as a sequel to Wolf’s recently published guide to Old Norse-Icelandic prose saints’ lives (The Legends of the Saints in Old Norse-Icelandic Prose, University of Toronto Press, 2013).

This paper, which is based on this larger project, focuses on the composition and dissemination of poems about saints in early modern Iceland. It examines the continued (and in some cases, increased) popularity of stories about holy men and women in Iceland during the centuries after the Reformation, and using the poems as a cultural mirrors, considers what they can tell us about the continued relevance of Catholic saints in Protestant Iceland.

Natalie Van Deusen is an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, where she teaches courses on Scandinavian language, literature, and culture from the Middle Ages to the present day. Her areas of research specialization include Old Norse-Icelandic philology, hagiography (poetry and prose), and gender studies. She is currently co-writing a book on saints in medieval and early modern Icelandic poetry with Dr. Kirsten Wolf (University of Wisconsin-Madison).