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:

Coming Soon!

New 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.

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.

Influences 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.

Forthcoming in this series

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.

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 of 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.

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 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.

Paranormal Dreams in Icelandic Sagas

By Christopher Wilfred Ellis Crocker

This study explores the dreams described and discussed in the medieval Icelandic sagas and the porous boundary that separates dreams from waking life in the narratives. It includes a detailed examination of the ways in which the cultural, historical, and literary contexts in which the sagas found written expression during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries may have influenced the representation of dreams and the act of dreaming in the texts.