Report from Cassidy Croci (Research Support Fund)

International Medieval Congress Leeds

Thanks to the Viking Society and the International Medieval Congress (IMC) Bursary Fund, I presented a paper and participated in a roundtable at the 2023 IMC, which took place at the University of Leeds, from 3-6 July.

IMC 2023’s special thematic strand of ‘Networks and Entanglements’ was particularly aligned with my PhD research which constructs, visualises, and quantifies the narrative networks of the Sturlubók redaction of Landnámabók. Here, I attended multiple panels dedicated to applying Social Network Analysis to medieval texts and had the unique opportunity to discuss the quantitative side of my project with historical network scholars who use similar approaches.

My paper entitled, ‘I’ll Make a Landnámsmaðr Out of You: A Social Network Analysis of primary, secondary, and dependent settlers in Iceland as portrayed in Landnámabók’ discussed how social hierarchies form and operate in the narrative networks of Sturlubók (i.e. networks constructed of the approximately 3,100 individuals in the text and roughly 8,100 relationships). This talk was well received by both Old Norse scholars and Digital Humanities scholars.

I also participated as an invited panellist in the session ‘Networked Middle Ages: Celebrating Social Network Scholarship in Medieval Studies – A Round Table Discussion’ sponsored by the Social Network Analysis Researchers of the Middle Ages (SNARMA). This roundtable introduced a forthcoming medieval Social Network Analysis volume to be published by Arc Humanities Press. Here, I discussed the chapter I will be contributing, which will be based on my IMC Leeds paper and PhD research.

Attending 2023 IMC Leeds has further strengthened my international academic network and provided valuable insights into how to apply a variety of digital approaches to medieval sources. I am grateful for VSNR for providing funding to make this opportunity possible and supporting my research throughout the course of my studies.

Review of Old Norse Poetry in Performance by Ben Chennells (Research Support Fund)

Report of the conference held at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, 21-22 June 2023

Building on previous events held in 2016 and 2019, ‘Old Norse Poetry in Performance: Inheritance and Innovation’ was the third conference in the series which brings established academics, early career researchers, students, and independent scholars of Old Norse poetry together with performers in the poetic traditions of the medieval north. 44 delegates attended, including 15 students/early career researchers, and five more participated online. In-person participants came from as far away as Australia, South Korea, and Colombia, along with representatives of eight different European countries.

The papers presented as part of the academic side of the conference covered a wide range of topics, including medieval modes of Eddic and skaldic performance, how these are represented in both medieval prosimetra and modern performance practices, and the emerging connections between performance and runic poetry. Simon Nygaard’s keynote lecture focused especially on this latter dimension, drawing on the field of contextual runology to produce intriguing insights into the lesser-discussed performative functions of such well-known artefacts as the Schlwesig rune stick and the Ribe skull fragment. The programme also boasted an exciting line-up of performance events. After the first day of the conference, delegates were treated to a two-part event at the Oxford Story Museum. This featured an original English translation of Vǫluspá performed by Clare Mulley and Kjell Braaten, and a performance of Þorbjǫrn hornklofi’s Glymdrápa by Pétur Húni Björnsson and Ben Chennells, which was accompanied by discussions investigating the relationships between performance, performer, and audience. Mulley and Braaten’s performance was especially well received and attracted a favourable review in the national press. As the conference came to a close, delegates also participated in an interactive workshop on Faroese balladry hosted by Tóta Árnadóttir, who combined enthusiasm and patience to great effect in getting a roomful of academics to enact a chain dance.

The conference organisers are immensely grateful to the Viking Society for once again supporting this event via the Research Support Fund, which was used to secure technical support at the Story Museum. The ongoing ONPiP project continues to prove engaging and productive for both academics and performance practitioners, and the organisers look forward to building on its success in the years to come.

Report from Luthien Cangemi (Research Support Fund)

International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, 2023

Thanks to the generous support of the Viking Society and the Wellcome Trust, I had the opportunity to organize and participate in two panels on Illness, Health, and Disease in the pre-modern Nordic areas at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (May 2023). I am delighted to convey that both sessions attracted a significant audience, and the attendees expressed great satisfaction with the comparative framework employed to explore the themes of illness and health within the contexts of Old English, Middle English, Anglo-Norman, and Old Norse.

This experience proved to be immensely valuable for my PhD research and significantly enhanced my academic network and organizational abilities. The connections I established through my involvement in the conference organization are profoundly influencing my academic career trajectory, and I am currently exploring the prospect of editing a volume based on the research presented at the Kalamazoo event.

Furthermore, attending the congress in person rather than online allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the scholarly environment, practices, and research in the United States. I am sincerely grateful to the Viking Society for enabling my in-person attendance and for their assistance in making the most of this invaluable experience.