Mánaðarskipt færslusafn fyrir: febrúar 2017

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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