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NCCR Mediality
UZH




Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
Y. Implosion
Y.1. Transgressions and Implosions in Mythical Narrative

During the first two phases of the NCCR Mediality the Scandinavian Studies project area was primarily concerned with aspects of “staging” (Inszenierung) and as such with the performative realization of situations and conditions participating in a mediological discourse. Furthermore, the project also explored the idea of “interference” and suggested that from a mediality-based perspective, it appears as a surprisingly complex and multidimensional concept. In the third phase of the NCCR the project now seeks to analyse instances of transgression and implosion as medially constructed conditions. At the centre of the project area X.3 research stands the Prose Edda, a work dated to the 13th century. The text is commonly attributed to the Icelandic author Snorri Sturluson (1178/79–1241) and constitutes one of the most important works of medieval Scandinavian literature, both from a linguistic as well as from a literary perspective. Previous engagement with this text in the NCCR research group has shown that a mediological viewpoint on the text reveals multiple and complex perspectives, yet these perspectives have yet to be contextualised systematically. For this reason the third phase of the project seeks to advance the hitherto developed stratagems, which in the second phase had been summarised under the working title “Mythological Interference” and were concerned mainly with performative aspects. It now remains to extend these discoveries to also include aspects of literary “implosion”. In order to do this it is vital to first define the concept of “implosion” both historically and as a possible working hypothesis in mediology. Seen as an extension of the concept of interference it is hoped that ideas of “implosions” will make visible certain developments, such as for instance when in a process of medial transmission a surplus of content is accumulated and needs to be expelled. This may lead to either an amalgamation or a breakdown of the medial content and its inherent concepts and in turn to a new negotiation of the textual “world” as well as to the emergence of new moral concepts. The Icelandic Prose Edda is especially interesting in this regard, as it offers thematic connections to mythological material and the heroic epic and thus, ultimately, to the Poetic Edda. It also touches on the structural aspects of skaldic poetry, exploring the function of poetry in view of new premises in literary, social and mediological studies. In its entirety, the Prose Edda can be seen as a text which is especially concerned with borders and seeks to define itself through various limits. The perceived limits of mediality are therefore constantly and variously negotiated and re-interpreted in the text. The Prose Edda also openly discusses skaldic poetry and with this the conditions which need to be present for a poem to work. Remarkable in this respect is the complexity with which these poetic, rhetoric and mediological considerations are presented in the text. In seeking to explain skaldic poetry, the Prose Edda at the same time aims to retain the traditional art of skaldic poetry – originally rooted in the pagan age – within the narrative present of the thirteenth century.