The present volume deals with Nordic medieval texts that are overlooked in traditional, language-based narratives and capitalize on the performance turn in cultural studies.
The present collection explores a hitherto understudied body of Nordic medieval literature which, although overlooked in traditional, language-based narratives, was in fact crucial in shaping social and religious identities.
By drawing on the ‘performance turn’ in cultural studies, the volume identifies a number of minor and peripheral literary forms and texts that had a vital connection to ritual and ritualized speech. These neglected traditions therefore offer an alternative insight into Nordic literary life and the sets of cultural expression, or storyworlds, underlying Nordic culture.
The collected studies explore different aspects of verbal performances as a primary vehicle for the Nordic storyworlds, with a preference for the Christian over the pagan traditions. Emphasis is placed on Latin, Old Norse, and Finnish traditions that were retold and reproduced over time. These ‘living’ literary forms highlight the importance of non-canonical texts for the interpretation of contact between the peripheries and centres of Nordic culture. Through the focus on the interaction between Latin and the vernacular, between eastern Baltic and western Latin influences, and between ritual and speech in religious practice, this collection demonstrates the importance of ‘minor’ texts for the re-construction of medieval Nordic culture and history.
Introduction: What Is Nordic Medieval Literature? — LARS BOJE MORTENSEN AND TUOMAS M. S. LEHTONEN
Part I. The Impact of Latin Song, Book, and Service
The Word of God and the Stories of Saints: Medieval Liturgy and its Reception in Norway — ÅSLAUG OMMUNDSEN
The Arrival and Development of Latin Literacy on the Edge of Europe: The Case of Medieval Finland — TUOMAS HEIKKILÄ
Spoken, Written, and Performed in Latin and Vernacular Cultures from the Middle Ages to the Early Seventeenth Century: Ramus virens oliuarum — TUOMAS M. S. LEHTONEN
Part II. Christian Discourse Framing Pagan Stories
Zoroaster, Saturn, and Óðinn: The Loss of Language and the Rise of Idolatry — JONAS WELLENDORF
Edda and ‘Oral Christianity’: Apocryphal Leaves of the Early Medieval Storyworld of the North — HENRIK JANSON
Ethnocultural Knowledge and Mythical Models: The Making of St Olaf, the God of Thunder, and St Elijah during the First Centuries of the Christian Era in the Scandinavian and Baltic Regions — LAURI HARVILAHTI
Part III . Educating and Disciplining the Community
The Performative Texts of the Stave Church Homily — AIDAN CONTI
The Performative Non-Canonicity of the Canonical: Islendingasǫgur and their Traditional Referentiality — SLAVICA RANKOVIĆ
Provider of Prosperity: The Image of St Anne in Finnish and Karelian Folklore — IRMA-RIITTA JÄRVINEN
(Re)Performing the Past: Crusading, History Writing, and Rituals in the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia — LINDA KALJUNDI
Part IV. Oral Poetics through the Social Spectrum
Two Medieval Ballads on Betrayal and Deception: Interpreting the Story of the First Christian Bishop in Finland through the Story of Judas Iscariot — PERTTI ANTTONEN
Female Mourning Songs and Other Lost Oral Poetry in Pre-Christian Nordic Culture — ELSE MUNDAL
‘She was fulfilled, she was filled by it…’: A Karelian Popular Song of St Mary and the Conception of Christ — SENNI TIMONEN
"I found this to be a very insightful and groundbreaking book. Examining the lesser-known literatures of Old Norse, (...) along with various social and cultural influences has provided the foundation for more research in this area in the future. I found the extensive framing of the research within the book by the editors in the introduction quite refreshing and illuminating. A must-read for anyone whose scholarship touches on the medieval North and its influences and sources."
Bradford Lee Eden (Valparaiso University) in: The Medieval Review 14.11.07