S·P·I·N - Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms

SPIN lecture 2014: Tom Shippey

The 2014 SPIN lecture was given on Tuesday 25 November by Professor T.A. Shippey.

Tom Shippey, emeritus Professor of Humanities at St. Louis University, is famous among the wider public as the world’s foremost specialist on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and its background in Germanic and Comparative Philology. In the scholarly community, Shippey’s best-known work is on the 19th-century intellectual history of Germanic and Mythological Studies; among his publications in that field are a documentary reception study of Beowulf (Beowulf: The Critical Heritage, with Andreas Haarder) and The Shadow-walkers: Jacob Grimm's Mythology of the Monstrous. He was editor of Studies in Medievalism from 2003 to 2007.

Title and abstract of the lecture: “The Development of Mythography: Contests for Control
The rediscovery of Old Norse or Eddic mythology from the 16th century on had powerful ripple-effects, reinforced in the 19th century by the effects of the new science of comparative philology: the search for competing national or ethnic mythologies, the collection of “survivor-genres” such as fairy-tale and lay or ballad, the translation into new artistic forms from drama to comic-book. But how was mythology to be interpreted? Many theories evolved, of which those of Jacob Grimm and J.G. Frazer were only the most influential intellectually, and those of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien the most prominent artistically. This lecture surveys some part of this large and largely unexplored field, noting a general movement away from the first narrowly nationalistic intentions.

Date: Tuesday 25 November
Time: 16.00-17.00, followed by drinks
Place: Singelkerk (Singel 452, opposite Spui and Aula) Amsterdam

New research project: Icelandic Philology and National Culture, 1780-1918

The purpose of this international project is to investigate the work of Icelandic philologists who were engaged in the study and/or editing of Old Norse-Icelandic literature during the period 1780-1918, with specific focus on the nationalist thinking revealed therein.

Emphasis will be placed on establishing the nationalist discourse of these scholars as a separate issue from the political discourse which accompanied the struggle for Iceland’s independence from Denmark. Their scholarly discourse will be examined as part of the international discussion on the Old Norse-Icelandic cultural heritage and on national culture in general. One manifestation of this was the conflict between Icelanders and other nations over the ‘ownership’ of this heritage or specific parts of it. At the same time, Icelandic scholars enjoyed extensive collaboration with their foreign colleagues, and the nature of this collaboration and the context in which it took place will be the subject of particular attention. Finally, emphasis will be laid on an exploration of the interrelation between the discourse of Icelandic philologists and the reception of Greco-Roman heritage.

The research is expected to provide valuable insights into the formation of Icelandic identity in a period of ideological ferment, and to have significance for the field of cultural history generally. Results will mainly be published in English.

The project is funded by The Icelandic Research Fund and based at the Reykjavik Academy. It began in June 2014 and is scheduled to run for three years. Project leaders are Dr. Clarence E. Glad and Gylfi Gunnlaugsson, cand. mag. Other participants are Associate Professor M. J. Driscoll, Professor Gottskálk Jensson and Associate Professor Annette Lassen, all from the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, Professor Jon Gunnar Jørgensen of the University of Oslo, Professor Julia Zernack of the University of Frankfurt am Main, and two doctoral students: Simon Halink, Groningen, and Hjalti Snær Ægisson, Reykjavík.