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Staff and Research

Research on the Viking Age and Old Norse world is by necessity interdisciplinary. At Aarhus University, scholars from the relevant disciplines of archaeology, history, the study of religion, and Scandinavian languages and literature each bring approaches from their field in play when researching and teaching on the Viking and Old Norse world.

Viking Age Archaeology

The archaeology of the Viking Age issues from the rich and fascinating record of graves, settlements, cities, hoards, monuments, ships, as well as the transformative evidence offered by natural science, for example through DNA studies or techniques for provenancing and dating objects. It reveals the long-term evolution of ancient Scandinavian society, and spread of a maritime cultural diaspora from Russia to Western Europe and the North Atlantic Islands, and the transformations of social networks from power struggles and ideologies, to kinship and gender relations.

Pre-Christian Nordic Religion

The pre-Christian Nordic religion is made up of the world views and ritual practices of the peoples in the North-Germanic speaking cultural area in the Viking Age - including the cultural diaspora mentioned above. It is an historical religion based on oral tradition recorded in later, medieval texts, which means that methodologically and theoretically sound approaches - based in e.g. comparativism, discourse theory, typologies of religion, and ritual studies - must be employed when (re)constructing this religion. The Nordic mythology may be seen as an aspect of the story world of this religion and is of great value to understanding it. Throughout the Viking Age, a process of Christianisation took place through cultural contact and Christian mission, which must also be kept in mind when working with pre-Christian Nordic religion.

Old Norse Literature

Old Norse literature covers a broad range of genres – sagas (realistic and fantastic narratives and romances), myths, history writing, learned texts, and Eddic and skaldic poetry – most of them transmitted in manuscripts from the thirteenth century and onwards. Many of the texts are oral-derived, and have roots in earlier centuries, and ‘literature’ in this regard is understood in a broad sense to include oral lore and orally performed narratives as well. This rich and varied literature is investigated both thematically and theoretically, and with a focus on the methodological challenges it takes to work with manuscript-based literature. Old Norse literature has a long reception history, both within the discipline of literary studies, but also in neighboring disciplines, and the prolonged life and the many adaptations that exist of this literature are integral to the field of study as well.      


The following it list of faculty with expertise in various aspects of the Viking and Old Norse world:

Archaeology and Heritage Studies

History and Classical Studies

The Study of Religion

Scandinavian Languages and Literature

  • Associate Professor Pernille Hermann: Old Norse literature (prose and poetry), genre studies, orality and literacy, memory studies, reception studies
  • PhD Fellow Anna Solovyeva: Legendary sagas/Fornaldarsögur, reception history, skalds and skaldic tradition, genealogies, magic and supernatural in Old Norse-Icelandic literature.

 

Honorary Doctor Stephen A. Mitchell

Professor Stephen A. Mitchell, Harvard University, has received an honorary doctorate at Aarhus University in 2015. Mitchell is a leading world figure in the field of Medieval Scandinavian Studies, he has published extensively within this field since in 1987 he became Professor of Scandinavian and Folklore at Harvard University, he has received numerous prices, and is the editor of the prestigious book series ‘The Milman Parry Collection’. Since 2007 Mitchell has hosted the Harvard Summer School in Viking Studies at Aarhus University. Article on honorary doctor Stephen A. Mitchell

 

International Cooperation

Old Norse studies at Aarhus University encourage international cooperation between researchers and students through Visiting Professorships, teaching exchange, frequent seminars and conferences. Over the last few years several international scholars have been affiliated with the program.