Dr Hannah Burrows at Magdalene Medievalists

Our next speaker this academic year is Dr Hannah Burrows (Durham University), who will be giving a colloquium on Tuesday, 11th March, entitled:

Old Norse Kennings: gátur skálda (the riddles of the skalds)?

The abstract provided for this talk is as follows:

“To describe kennings, the characteristic feature of Old Norse skaldic diction, as ‘riddling’ or ‘riddle-like’ is common and helpful. But to what extent are kennings actually like Old Norse riddles? Appropriately enough, the small corpus of Old Norse gátur (riddles) remains shrouded in mystery: where do they come from? What are they for? In this paper, I will probe the kenning-riddle comparison in the context of the Old Norse riddle corpus (rather than in terms of the use of the modern English word) to see exactly where the similarities lie, and whether this can shed any light on the composition and function of the Old Norse riddles. In turn, I hope to provide a new perspective on the mental processes involved in the composition and comprehension of kennings, the artistry involved in each figure, and the conceptions of the world they reveal.”

Dr Burrows is currently COFUND International Junior Research Fellow in the Department of English Studies, Durham University, where she is engaged in writing a monograph on riddles and riddling language in Old Norse-Icelandic poetry. She is also Bibliographic Editor for the international editing project Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (https://www.abdn.ac.uk/skaldic/db.php) and has edited the poetry from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks for the project. Her doctoral thesis (from the University of York) was on Literary-Legal Relations in Commonwealth Period Iceland, and she has published several papers in this area.

The talk will take place at 6pm in the Parlour at Magdalene. We have ten spaces to come for dinner with the speaker afterwards at a local restaurant, so please let us know if you would like to come (via email to mms@magd.cam.ac.uk).


About magdalenemedievalists

Magdalene Medievalists Society was founded in 2007. Run by graduate students, it seeks to facilitate the study and discussion of all aspects of the Middle Ages.
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