Myth, Magic, and Memory in Early Scandinavian Narrative Culture

April 23, 2021
sm_festskrift_small.jpeg

 I was delighted and honored – and utterly surprised – to be presented on my recent 70th birthday with a beautiful volume of essays on a wide range of topics treating spiritual culture in the pre-modern North, edited by Jürg Glauser and Pernille Hermann, in collaboration with Stefan Brink and Joseph Harris (with the editorial assistance of Sarah Künzler). Needless to say, I am deeply grateful (and more) to the editors and all those who helped bring this moment about, and to all those who managed to keep this ‘birthday conspiracy’ from being unveiled before its time!

Myth, Magic, and Memory in Early Scandinavian Narrative Culture: Studies in Honour of Stephen A. Mitchell. Ed. Jürg Glauser and Pernille Hermann, in collaboration with Stefan Brink and Joseph Harris (with the editorial assistance of Sarah Künzler). Acta Scandinavica, 11. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2021. http://www.brepols.net/Pages/ShowProduct.aspx?prod_id=IS-9782503589879-1

From the Brepols (Acta Scandinavica) website:

"In this volume, several neighbouring disciplines, such as memory studies, literature, folklore studies, history of religion, medieval history, archaeology, oral history, and Old Norse studies intersect. The articles deal with similar questions and present illustrative case studies. Old Norse poems are analysed with regard to their mythological content; folktales, folklore, and other cultural phenomena are discussed with special foci on remembrance of the supernatural, witches, trolls, and others. One of the recurring questions is how we remember the past and how the past is created in memory.

Myth, magic, and memory have together formed important, and often intertwined, elements to recent studies in the narrative culture of Viking-Age and Medieval Scandinavica. Analytical approaches to myth (prominent in the fields of history of religion, archaeology, language, and literature, and central to studies of visual cultures up to modern times), magic (drawing on a wealth of Norse folkloric and supernatural material that derives from pre-modern times and continues to impact on recent practices of performance and ritual), and memory (the concept of how we remember and actively construe the past) together combine to shed light on how people perceived the world around them.

Taking the intersection between these diverse fields as its starting point, this volume draws together contributions from across a variety of disciplines to offer new insights into the importance of myth, magic, and memory in pre-modern Scandinavia. Covering a range of related topics, from supernatural beings to the importance of mythology in later national historiographies, the chapters gathered here are written to honour the work of Stephen A. Mitchell, professor of Scandinavian Studies and Folklore at Harvard University, whose research has heavily influenced this multi-faceted field."