Old Norse Editorial Philology

Thursday March 27, 2014, at 16.30
Árnagarður 311

Scholars in the field of Old Norse studies rely on accurate editions of medieval texts. Even if the editing of pre-modern texts is based on a long-standing philological tradition, it continues to present us with new challenges. The field has also been revolutionized in the last few years with the rapid development of digital media. The Centre for Medieval Studies is pleased to present two of the leading scholars in the field of Old Norse editorial philology, Odd Einar Haugen of the University of Bergen and Alex Speed Kjeldsen of Copenhagen University, who will be discussing different aspects of Old Norse editorial philology.

Odd Einar Haugen

Documentary and Eclectic Editions

A case study of Konungs skuggsjá

Odd Einar Haugen
Odd Einar Haugen

Konungs skuggsjá is arguably the most important work conceived and written in Norway in the Middle Ages. It has been preserved in a large number of manuscripts, the earliest being Norwegian while the younger manuscripts are Icelandic. In spite of this, not one of the 15 manuscripts is complete. The primary manuscript is the Norwegian AM 243 b a fol (ca. 1275), which once contained 86 leaves, but now has 68 leaves extant. In other words, it is 80% complete, but even so is regarded as the obvious Leithandschrift for any edition of the text. Since there are many other manuscripts of the work, it is possible to piece together a complete text, as has been done in the eclectic edition by Keyser, Munch and Unger (1848). They present the whole work in the orthography of the main Norwegian manuscript throughout the whole text, even when the text is based on younger Icelandic manuscripts. The approach of Ludvig Holm-Olsen in his 1945 documentary edition is the opposite one: he records the text of the main manuscript as far as it goes, and supplies the rest of the text from various Icelandic manuscripts, especially the 16th century AM 243 e fol. As a consequence, the orthography switches from Norwegian 13th century to Icelandic 16th century language, often in the middle of a sentence. This talk will discuss the problems of editing texts with a considerable degree of fragmentation: should the edition be eclectic or documentary?

Odd Einar Haugen is professor of Old Norse Philology at the University of Bergen. He has published in a number of areas, including textual criticism, editorial philology and text encoding. He has also published an Old Norse grammar and edited Handbok i norrøn filologi (2nd ed. 2013).

Alex Speed Kjeldsen

The Dynamic Aspects of Electronic Editions

A presentation of a forthcoming edition of the oldest original Icelandic charters

Alex Speed Kjeldsen
Alex Speed Kjeldsen

One of the most interesting characteristics of the electronic edition is its dynamic aspect. This is apparent in both the edition as such and in the way we—as editors and philologists—work with the text prior to publication. In my talk I will focus on how the editor as well as the end user can benefit from this. The point of departure will be my own work on a forthcoming edition of the oldest Icelandic charters (c1300–1450). I will include a practical demonstration of a prototype of this edition which will include multiple levels of transcription (with linguistically annotated text) combined with tagged digital images, advanced search interfaces, KWIC concordances and linking to external resources, e.g. dictionaries and digital maps. I will try to show how the combination of such features can make the edition more interesting to a larger target audience.

Alex Speed Kjeldsen holds a postdoctoral position at The Arnamagnæan Institute (Copenhagen University). He has edited Old Icelandic texts and published within the field of palaeography and language history. He is working on an electronic edition of the oldest Icelandic charters along with an investigation of their language and writing.

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