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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 831: Making Myth and Memory in Scandinavian Texts and Material Culture

Tuesday 2 July 2019, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Katarzyna Anna Kapitan, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, Københavns Universitet
Paper 831-aThe Myths and Materialities of Eagles and Ravens in the Old Norse World
(Language: English)
Kathryn Ania Haley-Halinski, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Mentalities, Pagan Religions
Paper 831-bMyth for the Masses: The Use of Mythology in Early Rímur
(Language: English)
Lee Colwill, Faculty of Icelandic & Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Iceland, Reykjavík
Index terms: Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Music, Pagan Religions
Paper 831-c'Hvítramannaland': Vinland, Prince Madoc, and the Search for a Pre-Columbian White Settlement in America
(Language: English)
Zachary Melton, Faculty of Icelandic & Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Iceland, Háskóli Íslands
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Local History, Medievalism and Antiquarianism

Paper -a:
It is often accepted among scholars that eagles and ravens were viewed as sacred by the Old Norse peoples. This is largely based on the prominence of these birds in the Prose Edda and in eddic poetry. This interdisciplinary paper will investigate the strength of these claims by inspecting sources beyond eddic materials to model how humans interacted with eagles and ravens. This will include laws against eating them in Grágás, and any marks indicative of human interference on skeletal remains of these birds. This will aim to model a more complex and holistic image of how Old Norse peoples perceived and interacted with these birds.

Paper -b:
Scholarship from the 19th century onwards has largely dismissed rímur as tasteless and unoriginal, and they remain a comparatively understudied corpus within Old Norse studies. The fact remains, however, that rímur were at the heart of Icelanders' literary lives for many centuries. Though it was unusual for rímur-poets to adapt mythological material, there are three pre-Reformation rímur which do, and a fourth which parodies these stories. This paper explores the poets’ choice and treatment of material to argue that, though by the late medieval period, pre-Christian mythology was largely conceived of as a source of humour, rímur-poets remained at pains to edify, as well as entertain, their audiences.

Paper -c:
'Hvítramannaland', which has been translated as 'white-man's land', refers to an obscure and legendary land that is mentioned in the Icelandic Landnámabók and referred to in the Vinland sagas. In the 19th century, the Norse visits became entangled in American nationalism, while the 20th century saw these narratives commandeered as symbols in support of white nationalism. This paper will compare the Vinland saga narratives with the legend of the Welsh Prince Madoc, with some light shed on the legends surrounding the Kensington Rune Stone, and will show that the common threads in these narratives point to a fervent desire for a white European pre-history in the United States.