Report by Ben Chennells (Research Support Fund)

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.

Report by Bob van Strijen (Research Support Fund)

Doing Things With Old Norse Myth: A Research & Cultural Symposium on Mythological Processes, Reykjavík, 25-27 November 2021

After last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic, 2021 finally saw the 16th annual Aarhus Old Norse Mythology Conference. This year, there were three important differences from previous editions. If one word would describe it, it might well be ‘hybridization’. First, like most other conferences, ‘Doing Things’ was forced to become a ‘hybrid’ event. While many presenters were luckily able to make it to Reykjavik, others were unfortunately forced to present or attend online. Second, while on the topic of presenters, this year heard new voices through a call for conference contributions in addition to the usual invited papers. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this year saw a day of ‘cultural events’ added to the two-day academic programme. This extra day of Goðsagnalistþing included a round-table discussion on ‘Modernising Old Norse Myth’, followed by a number of conversations each between a scholar and an artist or author who takes inspiration from Old Norse myths for their work. The symposium was concluded with a showing of the Icelandic animated movie Legends of Valhalla: Thor with an introduction by its scriptwriter.

The cultural day perfectly highlights that the scholarship we perform during the academic programme and on a daily basis does not happen in a vacuum. Old Norse mythology is booming, and while creators may first and foremost take inspiration from the primary sources, our work too is looked at, for interpretation, explanation, and contextualization. As these artists arguably have a wider reach and larger audience, understanding and cultivating this relation between arts and academia may be vital for the public perception of our field of research.