The Nordic Middle Ages
The choice of this topic is quickly explained. Already during my university studies, the courses dealing with medieval topics were always much more exciting for me than those of the other periods. Since I also studied Scandinavian studies in addition to history, the transfer to the northern region was obvious. As for many other areas, there is still so much to discover. Many texts or manuscripts are waiting to be read, rediscovered and evaluated. There are simply still many gaps to be filled. While I was more interested in Sweden in the beginning, I quickly became interested in Iceland during my undergraduate studies. The lessons in Old Norse and the study of the sagas did the rest. In the meantime, however, my focus has shifted away from Iceland and I am again more interested in Swedish and especially Danish historiography. I am especially interested in the old Swedish rhyme chronicles, which were written from the beginning of the 13th century, but are preserved in much later manuscripts.
When I decided to do a PhD after my studies, I looked for a topic for a long time. But then my mentor made me think that I should combine my two fields of study. Therefore, it is not surprising that I am now working on a thesis about Scandinavian historiography. There will be a separate blog post about that.
So what’s this blog all about?
My interest in history was already sparked in 8th grade. My history teacher recommended me various historical novels. In retrospect, this is rather questionable from a scientific point of view and should be regarded with caution, but my curiosity about this era was aroused – despite the many poorly researched novels. I loved them all. Nowadays, I perhaps only read a historical novel every few years, but I am still interested in the reception of historical events in popular culture. As I researched more and more, it occurred to me that not very many had yet dealt with it in a scholarly sense, either. Although the genre of the historical novel is very popular with readers all over the world, it is still a research niche. So far, there are not very many scientific publications on it. My original idea was therefore to simply write and publish several scientific articles per year on this topic. However, it quickly became clear that I would not find the time to do this in addition to my actual work and the thesis. Therefore, I decided to overcome my shyness and set up this site here.
However, it is rather not about historical novels.
Last year, I also taught a course that dealt with the reception of Norse mythology in the Middle Ages. The second part of the course will follow in the summer and this time we will deal with the reception in modern times. To do this, we will look not only at literature, but also at visual art and television production. However, we will limit ourselves to Scandinavian reception. We could never properly cover everything else in one term.
My research for the course also led me into the depths of the manga and anime world. Already as a small child, manga were “read” to me by my big brother and I was allowed to watch various anime on TV. Of course, nothing about Scandinavia was included, and although some of the content may not have been really suitable for a kindergarten or elementary school child – the fascination for this medium was, however, awakened. When I rediscovered my passion for Japanese popular culture during my university studies and began to study it academically, my interest was aroused even more. It also quickly became clear that there was a great deal of Scandinavian content of the most diverse kind, some of which had not yet been properly studied.
However, since there is not yet much on this topic in the English-speaking world, I would like to use this blog to share my research and results here. However, the contributions will appear in very different forms. If I examine whole series, several articles will appear. However, if it is a small mention, it is more likely to be mentioned in a smaller posting. When choosing the topics for research, it doesn’t matter if they deal with the North on a larger scale, or if they simply use Nordic names that are otherwise embedded in a different story and setting. The order of the investigations or reviews are chosen rather randomly. It depends on what has just been acquired, was already available to me anyway or if the accessibility is guaranteed.
Furthermore, I don’t necessarily want to limit myself to Japanese popular culture. There are simply too many other interesting publications dealing with Norse mythology for that. Comics are obvious here, of course, as well as several television series of recent times. Also in the gaming sector, there are many games that take on the Nordic Middle Ages.
In fact, the main focus will be on the reception of Norse mythology and not so much on the history of the Nordic countries.
Nevertheless, there will hopefully be other contributions in between, perhaps not dealing with the reception of the Nordic Middle Ages. The Nordic Middle Ages are simply too multifaceted for that and offer an incredible number of topics that still seem relevant today. However, the main focus is on the reception.
Suggestions, tips and of course comments on the reception of the Nordic Middle Ages are always welcome. My (not yet published) list of books, TV shows etc. is certainly not complete and new publications, series and games are added all the time. One can hardly keep the overview. If there are wishes, what should be treated or seems worthwhile, I am of course open for it.
A few notes on my own behalf: This is only a side project. My thesis comes first, of course. Besides, the study of the reception of the Nordic Middle Ages should also be fun. Therefore, not every aspect of the Nordic Middle Ages will be covered here. Also, some topics will certainly not be treated in full detail, as one would expect e.g. in a scientific publication.
Likewise, this post is rather non-scientific, but it should be considered as a useful preliminary teaser. Starting next week, things will get increasingly more scientific and hopefully exciting here. In this sense – see you next time!