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NCCR Mediality

Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
Mediality in late medieval Iceland
A workshop of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) ‘Mediality’
30. November – 3. Dezember 2009

Note: there have been last-minute changes to the programme. Please check this PDF file for new session times.

This workshop will focus on the media in which Old Norse literature was transmitted and received in late medieval Iceland. We therefore take our starting point from the orality/literacy debate, as oral performance and the written word are the primary media of literature in late medieval Iceland, but with two significant shifts of emphasis.

The first is that we take the relationship between the oral and the written as one of simultaneity and interference, rather than succession and replacement: medieval texts exist in an oral environment, the situation Ursula Schaefer calls Vokalität. This “multimedia” environment opens a new perspective on how Old Norse texts reflect on media forms, both within the fictional worlds they construct – in their mentions of books, reading, writing (runic and Latin), performance, gesture, images, music, etc. – and in explicitly theoretical statements in, for example, prologues and epilogues and works such as the grammatical treatises.

The second shift, suggested by our focus on the late medieval period, is away from searching for traces of oral origins in written texts, in favour of focusing on the material remains of Old Norse literature: the late medieval and early modern manuscripts. In what contexts were these manuscripts produced and, even more so, received and used? What conclusions can we draw from the variation and multiformity or ‘palimpsest character’ characteristic, to a greater or lesser degree, of all the major Old Norse literary genres (sagas, eddic and skaldic poetry)?

The conference Mediality in late medieval Iceland has been organised by the subproject B1 «Inszenierungen von Schrift» of the Swiss National Fund project ‘Mediality: Historical Perspectives’ (www.mediality.ch).

The following institutions have earned our gratitude for their generous sponsorship:
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds
NCCR ‘Mediality’
Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften (SAGW)
Zürcher Universitätsverein
Hochschulstiftung der Universität Zürich


Flateyjarbók GKS 1005 fol, 3v
[ Click for aggrandisement ]

Prof. Dr. Jürg Glauser
Universität Zürich
Deutsches Seminar
Schönberggasse 9
CH–8001 Zürich

Dr. Kate Heslop
Universität Zürich
Nationaler Forschungsschwerpunkt
Rämistrasse 69
CH–8001 Zürich