OX|BER Old Norse Summer School
Students and lecturers from the English Faculty of the University of Oxford and the Institute for Northern European Studies of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin came together for an intensive exchange at a Summer School in Berlin from 12 to 15 September 2022.
News from Sep 21, 2022
The University of Oxford’s English Faculty and the Nordeuropa-Institut at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are leading centres in the Anglophone and German-speaking worlds for the study of Old Norse-Icelandic literature and Scandinavian medieval culture. Students in the Anglophone world increasingly lack the German-language knowledge to read the considerable secondary literature written in German in the field, while, for German-speaking students, a knowledge of English is now vital. Professors Carolyne Larrington and Lukas Rösli decided that one way of overcoming the gap between the two traditions would be to hold a short summer school from 12 to 15 September, bringing together Oxford- and Berlin-based students and faculty in Berlin; a return visit to Oxford is planned for spring 2023.
The summer school brought together five students from each institution and key faculty members. On the first day the students presented their very various dissertation topics to one another and answered questions. On the second day, faculty members from Oxford and Nordeuropa-Institut organised ‘master-classes’, united by the theme of ‘Medialität, or (Re)Mediation’. These looked at the ways in which Old Norse material – texts, images, themes, characters, ideas – changed and mutated when moving into different media. The first session focussed on an iconic image from the Old Norse Prose Edda; the second looked at text, image and organisation in early modern manuscript and printed book versions of the same text. Classes on Viking and medieval Scandinavian medievalism – in TV shows, films, videogames and re-writing, on issues of translation for popular audiences and on storytelling in school contexts followed, with photographs of a range of exciting and ingenious props. The school closed with a guest lecture from Dr Nicolas Meylan of the University of Lausanne, who spoke about modern imaginings of Old Norse magic, its relationship to second-wave feminist neo-paganism and to contemporary alt-right political groupings.
The UK-based students learned a good deal about different approaches to Old Norse literature and culture, gaining insight into a range of interdisciplinary methodologies; the Berlin students learned something too about the literary and sometimes comparative interests of their Oxford counterparts. Now the Oxford contingent are eagerly anticipating welcoming the Berlin team to St John’s College next spring, for a programme that will focus on Old Norse materiality and the mediation of these materials from a museology perspective, with visits to Oxford’s museums and libraries. Wir freuen uns schon darauf!