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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.

Norse gods and American comics during the Second World War
Jón Karl Helgason

’s images featuring various Norse gods and goddesses, including Odin and Thor with imposing whiskers, dressed in Viking gear, and wearing winged helmets. 32 They partly resemble the violent Thor created by Simon and Kirby in 1942. Another likely source for the development of ‘The villain from Valhalla!’ is Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant . During the winter of 1941 to 1942, the strip was devoted to Val’s travels in the Mediterranean. He sails part of the way on a longship captained by the lively Viking Boltar, whose primary mission is to obtain gold from a local tribe in

in From Iceland to the Americas
The case of Harry Potter’s realms
Iver B. Neumann

European rule at the time. Robert Filmer (quoted in Kendrick 1950 : 76) was right when he stated that ‘most of the civilised nations of earth labour to fetch their original from some one of the sons or nephews of Noah’. 10 In the case of Scandinavian kings, they were said to have taken over land that had once belonged to the giants after the Old Norse gods had victoriously conquered them. In 1544, the Swedish nobleman and former archbishop Johannes Magnus wrote a work that went on to become one of the key texts for Europe’s understanding of the North (Neumann 2002

in Diplomatic tenses
Why some of us push our bodies to extremes
Author: Jenny Valentish

This book is about people willing to do the sorts of things that most others couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't. While there are all sorts of reasons why people consume substances, the author notes that there are those who treat drug-taking like an Olympic sport, exploring their capacity to really push their bodies, and frankly, wanting to be the best at it. Extreme athletes, death-defiers and those who perform incredible stunts of endurance have been celebrated throughout history. The most successful athletes can compartmentalise, storing away worry and pain in a part of their brain so it does not interfere with their performance. The brain releases testosterone, for a boost of strength and confidence. In bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) play, the endogenous opioid system responds to the pain, releasing opioid peptides. It seems some of us are more wired than others to activate those ancient biological systems, be it through being caned in a dungeon during a lunchbreak or climbing a sheer rock wall at the weekend. Back in 1990, sociologist Stephen Lyng coined the term 'edgework', now frequently used in BDSM circles, as 'voluntary pursuit of activities that involve a high potential for death, physical injury, or spiritual harm'.

The mythology of emigration in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
Heather O’Donoghue

Jones’s children’s novel Eight Days of Luke, avatars of the Old Norse gods provide exciting new acquaintances for a bored and lonely child in twentieth-century England. 5 In American Gods, the gods are represented as diminished quasi-human figures, in keeping with the faded and ever-fading belief in them. They are in almost comically reduced circumstances; they are shabby, down-at-heel low-lifes, struggling to survive, and often battling alcoholism and poverty. The action of American Gods initially involves Mr Wednesday, accompanied by Shadow, who we later

in From Iceland to the Americas
Sylvie Magerstädt

of religion than Hercules has thus acknowledged and it leaves him (briefly) speechless. In addition, the Norse gods are also portrayed in a more favourable light than the Greek gods in earlier seasons, despite their rugged and brutish behaviour. The ruling couple Odin and Frigga are shown as an elderly couple still very much in love with each other – in stark contrast to the relationship between Zeus and Hera earlier in the show. Thor, like his brother Baldur, genuinely cares for his people. Loki seems the only adversary. Nevertheless, Hercules’s mantra – ‘we make

in TV antiquity
Abstract only
Tim William Machan

the spread of Protestantism and an increasing early modern fascination with Norse gods and mythology. In his English Atlas Pitt (1639–97), thus, moves directly from a discussion of Thor and the other Norse gods to an account of the seventeenth-century Sámi: ‘Nor is their Idolatry more notorious then [ sic ] their Witchcraft; it being generally believ’d by all that have heard the name of Laplanders , that they are strangely addicted to Magick, and all arts of Sorcery.’ 40 Throughout the nineteenth century such demonic associations continued to be written into the

in Northern memories and the English Middle Ages
Abstract only
Robert H. MacDonald

’s birth in 1833. Gordon – ‘Spear’, the first weapon shaped by man to aid his fight with nature, and give him dominion over the wild things of plain and forest: the emblem of highest rank among the old Norse gods, held in the right hand of Odin: the weapon of sacrifice among

in The language of empire
Tim William Machan

, even if the latter is imagined as a distinctly different land inhabited by distinctly different people. A similar distinction is drawn between the two areas in the Prose Edda , the early thirteenth-century mythological handbook written by the Icelander Snorri Sturluson, who might also be the author of Egils saga . Towards the end of his preface, after explaining that the names of the Norse gods derive from those of a people who emigrated from Asia to Scandinavia, Snorri relates how these same people spread themselves and their language throughout northern Europe

in Northern memories and the English Middle Ages
Verena Höfig

spirit, the above prayer is offered, to be used when taking up a weapon. 72 The leaflet celebrates a warrior ethos geared at a predominantly male audience, and celebrates Norse gods connected to warfare and martial strength, such as Odin, Tyr, and Thor. Female goddesses or Vanir gods are only sparsely mentioned in the leaflet, though short prayers to the goddesses ‘Frigga’, ‘Eir’, ‘Freya’, and ‘Idun’, or ‘to my Valkyrie’, are included in the publication as well. The Asatru movement is, compared with other new religions, characterised by a disproportionately large

in From Iceland to the Americas