Skip to main content

IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 249: Spatiality and Perception in Old Norse Literature

Monday 1 July 2019, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Emily Lethbridge, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, University of Cambridge
Paper 249-a'Rolling out of Kingship': Reification of Social Status in Old Norse Literature
(Language: English)
Simon van Rekum, Historisches Seminar, Universität Zürich
Index terms: Anthropology, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Social History
Paper 249-bUnderground and up the Cliffs: Shelters, Hideaways, and Strongholds in Old Norse Literature
(Language: English)
Michael Irlenbusch-Reynard, Abteilung für Skandinavische Sprachen und Literaturen, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Index terms: Geography and Settlement Studies, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Mentalities
Paper 249-cLokrur: Translating and Engaging with an Old Icelandic Poem in Four Rímur
(Language: English)
Ellis Wylie, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Folk Studies, Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Pagan Religions

Paper -a:
A man 'rolled out of the king's name', a man 'rolled down the hill'. (Ágrip, c. 15): In Old Norse literature, terms denoting social positions (such as konungdóm 'Kingship' or konungs nafn ´Kings title') are repeatedly subject to linguistic reification, giving them a spatial form and equating them with physical settings. This paper suggests that social designations are a nexus of liguistic, social, and physical sphere. To take such an interrelationship seriously promises to gain new insights into how status and dominion/territory conceptually overlapped and enables us to ask what conception of status derives from such a figuration.

Paper -b:
At several instances, the Icelandic sagas tell of places where people would seek refuge, be it roaming around as a direct result of a conflict (e.g. in Gísla saga Súrssonar) or settling down in a protective dwelling (Jómsvíkinga saga); they can either be planned constructions ranging from simple tunnels, to sophisticated fortresses or natural sites for occasional use like the vantage-ground in the Almanna Gorge (Njáls saga). Eventually, they may represent a combination of all such aspects as it is described in Harðar saga ok Hólmverja. This paper collects examples from the above-mentioned, and several other sagas for the significance of the characteristics of those material elements and their narratological rôle in conflicts and feuds.

Paper -c:
There are some thousand extant samples of old Icelandic rímur poetry, but few have been published in modern Icelandic and fewer have ever been translated. I have rendered an English translation of one such poem, the collected rímur known as Lokrur, in the hopes of sharing them with a wider audience. The poem retells a famous Norse myth: the journey of the gods Þór and Loki to the kingdom of a Giant king, Útgarðaloki. It is important to examine the differences and similarities in transmission between the poem and its prose cousin in order to better perceive how style changes narrative and time changes perceptions.