Mánaðarskipt færslusafn fyrir: nóvember 2018

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

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.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu Háskóla Íslands

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.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

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.