Northern Medieval World: On the Margins of Europe

The Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University boasts a longstanding reputation in Old English, Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon Studies and the historical study of the medieval North Atlantic region. It is appropriate that in 2016 Medieval Institute Publications has established The Northern Medieval World as a series that explores the margins of Europe.

Series introduction

The Northern Medieval World aims to integrate research from historical, archaeological, literary and other traditions. Highly interdisciplinary in scope, the series embraces also gender, literary, manuscript, philosophical, religious and textual studies, as well as sources for educational use. We welcome cutting-edge approaches that seek to engage with all of medieval Scandinavia: not only Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden but also regions of the world that were part of the Norse universe in the Middle Ages—such as Rus, Normandy, the Danelaw and Greenland. Comparative studies are also welcome, as long as there is a significant Northern focus.

The Northern Medieval World is open in particular to “edgy” approaches, such as queer studies, ecocritical studies and digital humanities-based approaches. It aims to break down barriers with the other literary and cultural traditions in the Nordic world and to situate the literary and documentary evidence in its full historical context. Entering into dialogue with an inclusive range of topics that connect to medieval Scandinavia, the series will reach beyond the narrower market and thus speak to scholars and students across disciplines. Interdisciplinarity is thus a key characteristic of the series.

Medieval Institute Publications welcomes monographs from established and early career researchers, collections of thematic essays, scholarly editions and translations with substantial introductions and apparatus.

Keywords: Medieval Scandinavia, history, literature, law, gender, paleography, philosophy, religion, translations, editions.

Series editorial board

Proposals or completed manuscripts to be considered for publication by Medieval Institute Publications should be sent to Shannon Cunningham, acquisitions editor for the series, or the chair of the editorial board, Carolyne Larrington, St. John’s College, Oxford.

Board members comprise:

  • Oren Falk, Cornell University
  • Dawn Hadley, University of Sheffield
  • Kate Heslop, University of California, Berkeley
  • Jana Schulman, Western Michigan University
  • Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, Universitetet i Oslo

See forthcoming titles in this series.

Publications

Cover image of The Vikings Reimagined: Silhouettes of figures pointing, holding spears, and kneeling with swords against a light blue background. The Vikings Reimagined: Reception, Recovery, Engagement

Edited by Tom Birkett and Roderick Dale

Rediscovering the Vikings explores the changing perception of Norse and Viking cultures across different cultural forms, and the complex legacy of the Vikings in the present day. Bringing together experts in literature, history and heritage engagement, this highly interdisciplinary collection aims to reconsider the impact of the discipline of Old Norse Viking Studies outside the academy and to broaden our understanding of the ways in which the material and textual remains of the Viking Age are given new meanings in the present.

Northern Medieval World 6, ISBN 978-150151-815-7 (clothbound), 978-150151-388-6 (PDF), 978-150151-364-0 (EPUB)  © November 2019

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Cover image of Monsters in SocietyMonsters in Society: Alterity and Transgression in Medieval Iceland

By Rebecca Merkelbach

Employing literary and cultural theory as well as anthropological and historical approaches, this study reads the monsters of the Íslendingasögur in their literary and socio-cultural context, demonstrating that they are not distractions from feud and conflict, but that they are in fact an intrinsic part of the genre’s re-imagining of the past for the needs of the present.

Northern Medieval World 5, ISBN 978-150151-836-2 (clothbound), 978-150151-422-7 (PDF), 978-150151-409-8 (EPUB)  © November 2019

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Cover image of The Saga of the Jómsvikings: A Translation for Students: The Curmsun disc. Photo by Thomas Sielski, image enhancement by Donald Jensen, Unisats Aps. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.The Saga of the Jómsvikings: A Translation for Students

Translated by Alison Finlay and Þórdís Edda Jóhannesdóttir

Unique among the Icelandic sagas, part-history, part-fiction, the Saga of the Jómsvikings tells of a legendary band of vikings, originally Danish, who established an island fortress off the Baltic coast, and launched and ultimately lost their heroic attack on the pagan ruler of Norway in the late tenth century. This translation presents the longest and earliest text of the saga, never before published in English, with a full literary and historical introduction to this remarkable work.

Northern Medieval World 4, ISBN 978-158044-313-5 (paperback), 978-158044-314-2 (PDF)  © 2019

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Cover image of Influences of Pre-Christian Mythology and Christianity on Old Norse Poetry: 	A Narrative Study of VafþrúðnismálInfluences of Pre-Christian Mythology and Christianity on Old Norse Poetry: A Narrative Study of Vafþrúðnismál

By Andrew Edward McGillivray

In this study, McGillivray explores the cultural environment in which the Eddic poem Vafþrúðnismál was composed and re-examines the relationship between form and content in the poem and the respective influences of pre-Christian beliefs and Christian religion on the text. The poem serves both as a representation of early pagan beliefs or myths and also as a myth itself, relating the journey of the Norse god Óðinn to the hall of the ancient and wise giant Vafþrúðnir, where Óðinn craftily engages his adversary in a life-or-death contest in knowledge.

Northern Medieval World 1, ISBN 978-158044-335-7 (clothbound), 978-158044-336-4 (PDF), © 2018

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Cover image of New Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of Njáls saga: The historia mutila of NjálaNew Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of Njáls saga: The historia mutila of Njála

Edited by Emily Lethbridge and Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir

Njáls saga is the best known and most highly regarded of all medieval Icelandic sagas and it occupies a special place in Icelandic cultural history. The essays in this volume present new research and a range of interdisciplinary perspectives on the Njáls saga manuscripts. Extant manuscripts range from the thirteenth to twentieth centuries. The manuscript corpus as a whole has great socio-historical value, showcasing the myriad ways in which generations of Icelanders interpreted the saga and took an active part in its transmission.

Northern Medieval World 2, ISBN 978-158044-305-0 (clothbound), 978-158044-306-7 (PDF), © 2018

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Cover image of The Saga of the Jómsvikings: A Translation with Full Introduction: The Curmsun disc. Photo by Thomas Sielski, image enhancement by Donald Jensen, Unisats Aps. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.The Saga of the Jómsvikings: A Translation with Full Introduction

Translated by Alison Finlay and Þórdís Edda Jóhannesdóttir

Unique among the Icelandic sagas, part-history, part-fiction, the Saga of the Jómsvikings tells of a legendary band of vikings, originally Danish, who established an island fortress off the Baltic coast, and launched and ultimately lost their heroic attack on the pagan ruler of Norway in the late tenth century. This translation presents the longest and earliest text of the saga, never before published in English, with a full literary and historical introduction to this remarkable work.

Northern Medieval World 3, ISBN 978-158044-311-1 (clothbound), © 2018

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Forthcoming in this series

Paranormal Encounters in Iceland 1150-1400

Edited by Ármann Jakobsson and Miriam Mayburd

This anthology brings together articles by several scholars all engaged in the study of the many manifestations of the paranormal in the Middle Ages. The guiding principles of the collection are a clear focus on the paranormal experiences themselves, and, essentially, how they are defined by the sources. The authors work with a variety of medieval Icelandic sources, including family sagas, legendary sagas, romances, poetry, hagiography and miracles, exploring the variedness of paranormal activity in the medieval North.

The Development of Education and Grammatica in Medieval Iceland

By Ryder Patzuk-Russell

Medieval Iceland is known for the fascinating body of literary works it produced, from ornate court poetry to mythological treatises to sagas of warrior-poets and feud culture. This book investigates the institutions and practices of education which lay behind this literary corpus, as well as behind many other aspects of medieval Icelandic culture and society. By bringing together a broad spectrum of sources, including sagas, law codes, and grammatical treatises, it addresses the history of education in medieval Iceland from multiple perspectives. It shows how the slowly developing institutions of the church melded with native practices of fosterage to provide education in an entirely rural society. It questions long-standing assumptions about the lack of Latin in medieval Iceland, and about its exceptional literacy, in the context of an exploration of how medieval grammatical learning was adapted for a distinct bilingual educational environment.

Reading the Old Norse-Icelandic Maríu saga in its Manuscript Contexts

By Daniel C. Najork

The Old Norse-Icelandic Maríu saga survives in nineteen manuscripts. While the 1871 edition of the saga provides an edition of two versions based on multiple manuscripts and prints significant variants in the notes, the edition does not preserve the literary and social contexts of those manuscripts. In the extant manuscripts Maríu saga rarely exists in the codex by itself. The present study, then, restores the saga to its manuscript contexts in order to better understand the meaning of the text within its manuscript matrix, why it was copied in the specific manuscripts it was, and how it was read and used by the different communities who preserved the manuscripts.

Oath-Taking and Oath-Breaking in Early Medieval England and Iceland

By Gregory L. Laing

The legal and literary texts of early medieval England and Iceland share a common emphasis on the swearing of oaths. Traditionally, scholars looking at truth and attestation from the late medieval period tend to view early cases of swearing as procedural, artless, or largely instinctive. This study of Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic texts brings together the major legal and literary sources to explore those moments when words attempt to guarantee action or when narratives focus on the contravention of that system.