Fake News, Medieval Style: The Truth about Auðr

Last week I attended the IMC in Leeds, Britain — I was getting back in the PhD saddle after an 8-month hiatus caused by life, health problems, etc. The IMC, short for International Medieval Congress, is the largest conference on all things medieval in Europe. The main theme of this year’s IMC was ‘Memory.’ For me personally, this was the second time I attended the IMC. I presented a paper in the Old Norse Studies and Collective Memory Strand (shortened to #ONSCOM), sponsored by the editors of the Handbook of Pre-Modern Nordic Memory Studies and chairs of the Memory & the Pre-Modern North Research Network, Jürg Glauser, Pernille Hermann and Stephen Mitchell, and organized by Simon Nygaard and Yoav Tirosh.

Session 1621 of the Old Norse Studies & Collective Memory Strand. — Drawing by Yoav Tirosh @RealMundiRiki

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Many are the woes of the independent researcher

Alamort, drained, deflated, exhausted, pooped – take your pick. These are just some of the words that best describe my mental and emotional state. In spite of the good reasons not to write, I’m disappointed in myself and I’m saddened for not being able to wrap up my thesis. But it is not for the lack of passion for my topic or the willingness to finish my research. In the end, it’s a matter of regaining my balance and recovering from this never-ending fatigue. It’s that simple — and that hard.

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Lost in translation(s).

A lot of the texts I work with have never been transcribed, edited in their entirety, let alone translated. Therefore, transcribing and translating Icelandic texts into English is a big chunk of the research work I do. The majority of these texts are poems, preserved in manuscripts dating from the early eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries. And Icelandic poetry, with its kennings and rhythms, is no mean feat to translate. Sometimes, with such transferred texts, a lot can get lost in translation. The same holds true for understanding the life of an independent scholar. I often find myself lost in translation(s), in more than one sense of the word: in life and in language.

Lost in translation(s).

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Scribere et amare

This year, for my birthday, I was given a book on the life of the Swedish-speaking Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson Tove Jansson: Work and Love by Tuula Karjalainen. In 1947, Tove created her own ex libris with the motto “labora et amare.”

The Latin phrase – labora et amare – is not quite correct grammatically, but its intended meaning is ‘work and love.’ It was characteristic of Tove to put work before love. Most young women would have put them the other way around.

Tove Jansson: Work and Love, Tuula Karjalainen (2014).

Whilst I don’t fully agree with her view on life, there is something in it. I have always found great solace in studying, in writing and reading. As I have done numerous times in the past, I dived into my studies on Auðr as an escape or a safe haven. But when you find yourself a little lost on your intellectual journey, as I have talked about in my previous posts, you become paralyzed and can no longer write or read let alone concentrate. Work is no longer a source of comfort or pleasure, but rather a source of frustration and failure. And when that happens, what remains is love. Love for your partner and loved ones. And, equally important, love for your topic.

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The Rough Side of Independent Scholarship & The Write Way

As my tagline reads, I am a librarian, an avid reader, and a book fiend. I am also an independent PhD scholar at Ghent University, Belgium. It is challenging to combine both work and studies, as my previous blog post has shown. After hitting a low point last June, I felt discouraged and defeated. How do you write when your world has been turned upside down by a personal crisis (my own), a serious health issue (that of my beloved partner) or some other hardship?

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The mad life of an independent scholar: The sequel

I only made one simple New Year’s resolution in 2017: finish my PhD-thesis. I spent the next year trying to finish my thesis, but failed miserably. This past week, after a long dry spell of writing, I added one single sentence to my thesis. Now I feel a little reluctant to make the same resolution for 2018. As a by now drained, exhausted and self-doubting independent scholar, should I refrain from making any resolutions?


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Young Aud

Young Aud the Deep-Minded is introduced in the fifth episode of season five of Vikings, “The Prisoner” and starts to feature more prominently in the two following episodes, “The Message” and “Full Moon.” (WARNING: this post contains spoilers for episodes 5 to 7 of season 5 of Vikings!)

Young Aud the Deep-Minded. (Vikings, 5.5 “The Prisoner”)

Aud resides in Kattegat together with her father, Ketill Flatnose, when he decides to join Floki to settle in the newly discovered land of the Gods – Iceland. In this series, she is portrayed as a young, well-spoken woman, whereas in the literature she is a much older woman who is a source of sound counsel. But that is not the only discrepancy between the TV series’ account and what the texts actually say.

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