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The 12th Bergen International Postgraduate Symposium in Old Norse Studies 2018: Norms, Laws and Literature

The symposium for postgraduate students of Old Norse is hosted annually by the University of Bergen. Initiated by Professor Else Mundal under the auspices of the Centre for Medieval Studies, it is now organized by the Old Norse section of the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies.

group photo
Participants of the 10th Bergen-UK Old Norse Postgraduate Symposium 2016


Each year MA and PhD students are invited from Bergen and several other universities to present their research to their peers, gaining experience in writing papers and public speaking, and getting the opportunity to meet students at the equivalent academic stage.

The theme of the 2018 conference is "Norms, Laws and Literature".

The academic programme will take place on the 9th to the 11th of April at the University of Bergen. The location for all three days is the Law Faculty (Jusbygget, Dragefjellet, Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1), Auditorium 3.

On Thursday the 12th April there will be an excursion in Bergen.

All are welcome to listen to the papers and participate in the discussion free of charge. For registration or more information please contact: helen.leslie@uib.no.


Monday 9th April

08.30 - 09.00: Registration

09.00 - 09:15: Opening address by Jørgen Sejersted (Dean of the Humanities Faculty)


Session 1: Íslendingasögur 

Chair: David Ashurst 

09.15 - 09.45: Brynja Thorgeirsdottir (Cambridge), Anger in Njáls saga: Body, Words and Gender 

09:45 - 10.15: Tom Grant (Cambridge), Creating Problems: The Smith-Poet Figure in the Íslendingasögur

10.15 - 10.45: Lauren O'Brien (Nottingham), Egils saga Skallagrímssonar and the Rejection of his Father’s Authority


10.45 - 11.15: Coffee break

11.30 - 12.30: Visit to special collections

12.45 - 14.00: Lunch


Session 2: Poetry  

Chair: Hannah Burrows 

14.00 - 14.30: Francesco Colombo (Cambridge), Advice, Betrayal and Possession: The Word ráðain the Eddic Poems about Sigurðr’s Youth

14.30 - 15.00: Katie Haley-Halinski (Cambridge), Birds of a Feather: Avian Taxonomies in Skaldic Kennings

15.00 - 15.30: Leiv Olsen (Bergen), Linguistic Criteria for the Age of Eddic Poetry: Will We Ever Be Able to Achieve a Consensus on the Date of Eddic Poetry?


15.30 - 16.00: Coffee break


Session 3: Fornaldarsögurand Romance   

Chair: Brittany Schorn 

16.00 - 16.30: Claudia Hoßbach (Cambridge), Hún mællti þá hlæjandi með miklum ógangi: Laughter in Íslendingasögurand fornaldarsögur

16.30 - 17.00: Katherine Olley (Cambridge), Co-Presence or Consumption: Transgressing Kinship Norms in Old Norse Mythic-Heroic Literature

17.00 - 17.30: Alisa Valpola-Walker (Cambridge), Viktors saga ok Blávus: Global Narratives from the Edge of the World


Tuesday 10th April


Session 4: Gender Perspectives 

Chair: Judy Quinn

09.00 - 09.30: Luthien Cangemi (Cambridge), The Role of Women in Old Norse Medicine

09.30 - 10.00: Michael Frost (Aberdeen), Bishops and Witches in Fourteenth-Century Iceland

10.00 - 10.30: Jessica Yusek (Nottingham), Loathly Ladies and Shape-shifting Women: Gender and the Supernatural in Medieval Icelandic and Middle English Literature


10.30 - 11.00: Coffee break


Session 5: The King and the Aristocracy 

Chair: Jens Eike Schnall 

11.00 - 11.30: Beñat Elortza (Aberdeen), Memory, Law and Pragmatism: The Institutionalisation of the leiðangr in Scandinavia during the Civil Wars

11.30 - 12.00: Heidi Synnøve Djuve (Aberdeen), A Reappraisal of Konungastyrelsen – A Swedish Medieval Treatise on the Art of Royal Governance

12.00 - 12.10: Short break

12.10 - 12.40: Tom Morcom (Oxford), The Oscillating hirð in Morkinskinna

12.40 - 13.10: Will Raybould (Durham), “Gilded Axe-Heads and Sword-Hilts” Examining Aristocratic Identity in Sven Aggesen’s Lex Castrensis Sive Curiae


13.10 - 14.30: Lunch


Session 6: Law 

Chair: Helen F. Leslie-Jacobsen

14.30 - 15.00: Anne Ladefoged (Copenhagen), The Layout in Prologue and Law Text

15.00 - 15.30: Viktória Gyönki (Budapest), Oaths in Medieval Scandinavian Law and Literature

15.30 - 16.00: Joseph Ryder (Bergen), Udal Law, Place Names and Thing Places? The Problems of Interdisciplinary Research as an Archaeologist of the Viking Age and Late Norse Period of Skye and the Outer Hebrides


16.00 - 16.30: Coffee Break


Session 7: Northern Geographies 

Chair: Ruarigh Dale

16.30 - 17.00: Jonas Zeit-Altpeter (Bonn), Infernum Hyslandie – Gateway to Hell? Icelandic Volcanism in Medieval Texts, ca. 900-1300

17.00 - 17.30: William Pidzamecky (Nottingham), So it was written, so it shall be? Investigating Written Primary Source Evidence for Viking Expansion to England, Ireland, and Eastern Europe in the 8th to 10th centuries


19.00: Conference Dinner (Matbørsen, Vågsallmenningen 1)


Wednesday 11th April


Session 8: Writing Culture and Runology 

Chair: Juliane Tiemann

09.00 - 09.30: Johan Bollaert (Oslo), Roman Alphabet Inscriptions in Early Medieval Norway – A Distinct Writing Culture?

09.30 - 10.00: Elisabeth Magin (Nottingham), Rethinking Runology

10.00 - 10.30: Caroline Wilhelmsson (Aberdeen), Öland’s Runes and its Clergy: A Case of Interdependence?


10.30 - 11.00: Coffee break


Session 9: Manuscript Studies  

Chair: Odd Einar Haugen

11.00 - 11.30: Sven Kraus (Berlin), Medieval Literature and ‘the National’: Normative Discourses in Research and Perception

11.30 - 12.00: Patrick Farrugia (Bergen), A Case for Lasting Old Norwegian Influence in Northern Iceland

12.00 - 12.10: Short break

12.10 - 12.40: Zuzana Stankovitsová (Bergen), Building a Stemma of the Króka-Refs saga Manuscripts

12.40 - 13.10: Nina Stensaker (Bergen), Dealing with a Law Fragment


13.10 - 14.30: Lunch


Session 10: Communities  

Chair: Zuzana Stankovitsová

14.30 - 15.00: Alexander J. Wilson (Durham), “Alternative” Communities in the Sagas: Constructing a Methodology for Literary Interpretation

15.30 - 16.00: William Brockbank (Oxford), Nis þæt heoru stow: Unpleasant Places in Beowulf andGrettis saga

15.30 - 16.00: Thomas Spray (Durham), On Origins: George Dasent, Charles Darwin, and Old Norse ‘Glossology’


16.00: Coffee