I am very grateful to the Viking Society for Northern Research for co-funding my field trip in Copenhagen from 10th March to 16th April 2023, which allowed me to join the Arnamagnæan Institute as a visiting scholar. The experience I have gained at the Institute is invaluable. It allowed me to acquire first-hand experience with manuscripts, test my latest research results, carry out some bibliographical research, and extend my academic network.
Regarding the first point, the Arnamagnæan Institute houses three of four manuscripts I am researching for my PhD project and some manuscripts I would potentially work on during my postdoc. Here I had the opportunity to review only one of them in person and appreciate some codicological and palaeographical features that are not visible in the digital format that I will include in my dissertation. Unfortunately, the second and third manuscripts have developed severe damage over the last few decades, and therefore I could not work on them in person. The Institute has, however, provided an excellent digital version of one of the two damaged manuscripts available from their database for internal users only.
Secondly, the Institute seminar committee has invited me to give a talk on any aspect of my dissertation. The talk, which I titled “The Invasive Model of Illness in an Old-Norse Medical Miscellany: Two Case Studies of við trollriða and við álfavǫlkun” has been well received by both the Institute and the Dictionary of Old Norse Prose (ONP) members. I understand from the following discussions that some of my lexicography points have been taken onboard and used to change some lexicon categories.
Visiting Copenhagen has also given me the opportunity to explore Den Kongelige Bibliotek and the University-based Nordisk Samling, where I found valuable works in Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic unavailable in the UK, which deepened my knowledge of scholarly debates on Old Norse medical miscellanies.
Finally, I have developed a strong network of friends and colleagues in the Institute and at the ONP who have always warmly welcomed me, providing the space and the tools to work comfortably and efficiently, showing great interest and support for my current research and future projects.
The 14th Bergen International Postgraduate Symposium in Old Norse Studies
The Bergen Symposium was a four-day conference (17th-20th April 2023), with papers covering a diverse range of topics in Norse studies and delivered by postgraduate students representing eleven different universities across Europe. This was a highly enjoyable and beneficial experience, and I am most grateful to the VSNR and their Research Support Fund for providing me with the funding I needed to travel there.
Situated between bright blue sea and awe-inspiring mountains, Bergen is a truly beautiful city. It is also an exciting site for medievalists, being home to the World Heritage town of Bryggen (a 14th-century trading centre) and the hall of the 13th-century King Hákon Hákonarson. Naturally, as a budding medievalist on my first trip to Norway I was eagerly darting between all these sites – as were many of us at this Symposium. Not too far away, there is also the 12th-century Cistercian monastery, Lyse kloster, and the Hordamuseet with its collection of boats and an Iron Age excavation site; we visited these sites on the final day. In Bergen, any keen scholar of Norse studies is always bound to learn something fascinating and useful to their research.
Yet the greatest proportion of our time was spent in the equally fascinating talks. With topics ranging from linguistics and corpus research to literature and palaeography, each day filled a new hive of knowledge. Additionally, the Symposium was also immensely beneficial for gaining presentation experience. For myself and many others, as young academics this was our first time delivering a formal paper in front of an audience. Far from this being intimidating, personally I found it great fun to share my own research on dreams and Gísla saga Súrssonar with other students and professors of Norse literature and to hear their feedback on my ideas. I now look forward even more to developing my ideas in response to the questions I was asked in Bergen, and consequently am certain that my future PhD will be a more relevant and solidly-argued contribution to the field of Old Norse studies.
Thus, the Bergen Symposium was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone present. There was so much to learn from the talks and the city itself, and together these made the week truly inspirational for us as the next generation of Norse scholars. Special thanks is due to Helen Leslie-Jacobsen of the University of Bergen for organising this conference, and to the VSNR for making it possible to attend.
I am grateful to the Viking Society for providing funding for my attendance at the 18th International Saga Conference, on Sagas and the Circum-Baltic Arena, which took place in Helsinki and Tallinn, between 7–14 August 2022. Hosting delegates with expertise in all areas of Old Norse studies, and from a global range of institutions, the International Saga Conference is internationally renowned as being the premier conference in the field. I was, therefore, delighted to be able to attend the conference for the first time with the Viking Society’s support.
The range of research delivered at the conference was impressive, deepening my understanding of Old Norse texts both within and beyond my own specialism. Keynote lectures by Neil Price, Haraldur Bernharðsson, and Stephen Mitchell set the tone in their exhibition of highly developed research on Old Norse language, folklore, and mentalities, whilst also encouraging inclusivity in dialogues within the discipline. Amongst the many parallel sessions, I found panels on ‘Skalds and discourse’, ‘Perspectives on Jómsvíkinga saga’, ‘International mobility and contacts’, and ‘Constructing the saga’ particularly helpful and informative. It was excellent to have the opportunity to discuss this research with colleagues both familiar and new, with the social aspects of the conference enhanced by its hybrid format. I was also pleased that my paper, based on my doctoral research on audiences of Old Norse skaldic poetry and entitled ‘Sagas and the ongoing history of skaldic reception’, was well received. The discussion following my presentation has already proved beneficial for my research, since, at the time of writing, I am in the process of writing up my doctoral thesis. Overall, the conference organisers are to be thanked and commended for making this event happen in such difficult circumstances.