Five New Books on Medieval Icelandic Literature

Five new books on medieval Icelandic literature and history have recently been published in English. On November 10th 2017, the books will be introduced at the University of Iceland and all are welcome.

10 November 2017 - 12:00 to 13:00

Árnagarður, room 301, University of Iceland

Five Books by Professors at the University of Iceland

Ármann Jakobsson, Professor in Icelandic, Sif Ríkharðsdóttir, Professor of Comparative Literature, Sverrir Jakobsson, Professor in History and Jón Karl Helgason, Professor of Icelandic as a Second Language, will be introducing five new books in the field of Icelandic medieval literature and history in Árnagarður at the University of Iceland campus, room 301, on Friday 10 November at 12:00-13:00.  Torfi H. Tulinius will be chairing the event. All guests are welcome to bring lunch or snacks and join us.

Ármann Jakobsson will be introducing his book The Troll Inside You: Paranormal Activity in  the Medieval North, which was published by Punctum last summer. The principal subject of this book is the Norse idea of the troll, which the author uses to engage with the larger topic of paranormal experiences in the medieval North. The texts under study are from 13th-, 14th-, and 15th-century Iceland. The focus of the book is on the ways in which paranormal experiences are related and defined in these texts and how those definitions have framed and continue to frame scholarly interpretations of the paranormal.

Sif Ríkharðsdóttir will be introducing her book Emotion in Old Norse Literature. Translations, Voices, Contexts, which was published by Boydell & Brewer this October. The volume explores the literary representations of emotion in Old Norse literature and its staging through voice, performativity and narrative manipulation. The author argues that the deceptively laconic portrayal of emotion in the Icelandic sagas and other literature reveals an "emotive script" that favours reticence over expressivity and exposes a narrative convention of emotional subterfuge through narrative silences and the masking of emotion. Focusing on the ambivalent borders between prose and poetic language, she suggests that the poetic form may provide a literary space within which emotions can be expressed. The volume considers a wide range of Old Norse materials - from translated romances through Eddic poetry and Íslendingasögur (sagas of Icelanders) to indigenous romance, including some of the better known sagas such as Brennu-Njáls saga and Egils saga.

Sverrir Jakobsson will introduce two recent essay collections, one the one hand The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas co-edited with Ármann Jakobsson and on the other Sturla Þórðarson: Skald, Chieftain and Lawman co-edited with Jón Viðar Sigurðsson. The first volume presents a detailed interdisciplinary examination of saga scholarship over the last fifty years, sometimes juxtaposing it with earlier views and examining the sagas both as works of art and as source materials. In the volume 27 scholars discuss the various debates within the field from a variety of approaches. The volume will be of interest to Old Norse and medieval Scandinavian scholars and accessible to medievalists in general. In the latter volume a group of scholars from various fields discuss Sturla Þórðarson. Sturla Þórðarson is one of only a handful of thirteenth-century Icelandic historians to be known by name, and he is certainly one of the most significant. A number of works may be traced directly to his literary-cultural circle, notably Landnámabók (The Book of Settlements), Íslendinga saga (The Saga of Icelanders) and Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (The Saga of King Hákon). Moreover, it is thought that Sturla was involved in the production of the legal text known as Járnsíða, as well as annals and, possibly, some of the Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Icelanders). The volume places his life and works in a historical perspective.

Last but not least, Jón Karl Helgason will be introducing his book Echoes of Valhalla. The Afterlife of Eddas and Sagas published by Reaktion Books in April. The book is a unique account of modern adaptations of the Icelandic eddas (poems of Norse mythology) and sagas (ancient prose accounts of Viking history, voyages and battles). In the volume Jón Karl looks at comic books, plays, music and films, exploring reincarnations of the Nordic gods Thor and Odin and the saga characters Hallgerd Long-legs, Gunnar of Hlidarendi and Leif the Lucky, as well as the works of the medieval writer Snorri Sturluson. He looks at Scandinavian, British and American cases, as well as German, Italian and Japanese adaptions. Examples include the cartoonists Jack Kirby and Peter Madsen, playwrights Henrik Ibsen and Gordon Bottomley, travellers Frederick Metcalfe and Poul Vad, composers Richard Wagner and Edward Elgar, rock musicians Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and film directors Roy William Neill and Richard Fleischer.