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Vinland and historical imagination

From Iceland to the Americas, an anthology of thirteen original critical essays, is an exercise in the reception of a small historical fact with wide-ranging social, cultural, and imaginative consequences. Medieval records claim that around the year 1000 Leif Eiriksson and other Nordic explorers sailed westwards from Iceland and Greenland to a place they called Vinland. Archaeological evidence has in fact verified this claim, though primarily by way of one small, short-lived Norse settlement in Newfoundland, which may not even have been Leif’s. Whether or not this settlement was his, however, the contact associated with him has had an outsized impact on cultural imagination in and of the Americas. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, indeed, novels, poetry, history, politics, arts and crafts, comics, films and video games have all reflected a rising interest in the medieval Norse and their North American presence. Uniquely in reception studies, From Iceland to the Americas approaches this dynamic between Nordic history and its reception by bringing together international authorities on mythology, language, film, and cultural studies, as well as on the literature that has dominated critical reception. Collectively, the essays not only explore the connections among medieval Iceland and the modern Americas, but also probe why medieval contact has become a modern cultural touchstone.

Leif Eiriksson, the 1893 World’s Fair, and the Great Lakes landnám
Amy C. Mulligan

In a headline-grabbing re-enactment of Leif Eiriksson’s Vinland voyage, a wooden Viking ship sailed from Norway to become one of the most popular spectacles at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The voyage of the aptly-named Viking to America’s Midwest, as well as the later erection of a statue of Leif in Chicago and the 1927 naming of the major highway now known as ‘Lake Shore Drive’ as ‘Leif Ericson Drive’, show the many ways in which a medieval Viking past was re-mapped onto the landscape of one of America’s most dynamic urban centres, Chicago, a city which excelled at reinvention like nowhere else in late nineteenth-century America. Through place-naming practices and immersive performances in new landscapes, powerful identity narratives rooted in a medieval past allowed those who came to Chicago, and Scandinavian-American communities in particular, to find Valhalla in the Midwest and establish a valorised American future.

in From Iceland to the Americas
Bergur Þorgeirsson

Columbus’s, Anderson was trying to be a mythmaker as well as a mythbreaker. 22 The 1892 celebrations of the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s landing in the Caribbean, as well as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, were even stronger catalysts for Leif Eiriksson enthusiasts. In the years around 1890, in fact, several new translations of Snorri’s works and of the Vinland sagas were published, and old ones were reissued as well. In these works, scholars like Anderson often succumbed to the urge to present texts with historical ‘corrections’. In 1889, Anderson thus

in From Iceland to the Americas
Abstract only
James Keating

, ‘Women’s suffrage in New Zealand revisited’, pp. 25–41. My essay comparing Utah women’s rise to prominence in American and international feminist circles after the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with New South Wales women’s chequered pre-war internationalism steps in this direction, as does Ana Stevenson’s work on suffrage print culture. Keating, ‘International activism after the fair’, pp. 192–212; Stevenson, ‘Imagining women’s suffrage’, 638–66.

in Distant Sisters
Shaping and remembering an imperial city, 1870–1911
David Atkinson, Denis Cosgrove, and Anna Notaro

World’s Fair see J. Gilbert, Perfect Cities: Chicago’s Utopias of 1893 (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1991). 8 J. Onians, Bearers of Meaning: The Classical Orders in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance (Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1988); G. M. Rushworth, ‘Architecture and art’, in C. Bailey (ed.), The Legacy of Rome (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1924), pp. 385–427; G. Giovannoni, ‘Building and engineering’, in C. Bailey (ed.), The Legacy

in Imperial cities
America in Rome at the beginning of the twentieth century
Daniele Fiorentino

world fairs and international exhibitions, such as the expositions staged in Rome and Turin in 1911. As in the case of the famous 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, these international events offered both countries the opportunity to showcase their achievements to the world. In 1911, in fact, Italy celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, and for this reason the

in Republics and empires
Abstract only
Staging art and Chineseness
Jane Chin Davidson

institutionalization of this divide explains why it took a hundred years for the first official pavilion dedicated to the Republic of China on Taiwan to be included in the Venice Biennale in 1995. The Chinese Village at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair organized by F.W. Putnam from Harvard University, for example, provides an important historical context for understanding the formative divide between the art historical and anthropological staging of cultures. The fairs’ representation of the ‘Oriental’ body had particular pertinence within this exhibitionary context, with significant

in Staging art and Chineseness
The circulation and display of interior dreamscapes
Anca I. Lasc

décoration de style (c. 1900), chose to exhibit these books at universal exhibitions as proof of its technical prowess.115 The first of these publications was part of Thézard Fils’ display both at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and at the 1900 Paris Exposition universelle.116 If the book excelled through such “interior dreamscapes” as the red-and-white “Salon Régence,” which, through its use of flowing drapery, again recalled theatrical décor (Plate 14), it also stood out through its attempts at historical accuracy in such interiors as its “Salle à manger gothique” (Plate

in Interior decorating in nineteenth-century France