BA (Hons), MA, PhD (York)



Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272739
The University of Aberdeen Crombie Annexe, CA102

Listen to the 'Rune Carol', my collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden in London and the Financial Times, here: www.FT.com/runecarol. Lyrics adapted and translated from the medieval rune poems by me and music by Johan Hugosson.

Continuing the Christmas theme, here's a short piece I wrote about the spookier side of the festive season: https://theconversation.com/scandinavian-winters-of-old-were-less-hygge-more-nordic-noir-69386


My main research interests are in the medieval North, particularly Old Norse-Icelandic literature, language, culture, and society. I studied for a BA (Hons) in English and Linguistics, an MA in Medieval Studies, and a PhD in English and Related Literature, all at the University of York. During 2007-2012 I held a postdoctoral position on the international research project Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, based at the University of Sydney, and in 2013-14 was a Junior Research Fellow at Durham University. I came to Aberdeen as Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies in September 2014. In December 2017 I was an ERASMUS Visiting Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna.


Research Interests

My main research interests are in the medieval North, particularly Old Norse-Icelandic literature, language, culture, and society. I currently hold an AHRC Leadership Fellowship for a project entitled What Am I?, which examines the language used in Old Norse poetry to express ideas about the world and humanity's relationship with it. I am increasingly interested in theoretical and critical approaches from the cognitive and environmental humanities, and their applicability to Old Norse and medieval literature.

My PhD thesis investigated literary-legal relations in medieval Iceland, and I continue to be interested in legal culture. I've researched and published on the use of legal terminology and court scenes in sagas; lawspeakers and lawyers; the impact of literacy on legal knowledge; and the use of poetry in various legal contexts.

Having edited the poetry from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks for the skaldic project, I became especially interested in the saga's collection of riddles, the world views they represent, and the traditions they play with, which has allowed me to think and write about Old Norse mythology, representations of the natural world, poetic traditions, humour and play, Old Norse bird puns, and lots of other fun and interesting things besides (many of which feed into my new project). I am also interested in the semantics of humour and laughter in Old Norse, jokes about women, and the genderedness of laughter in medieval Scandinavia, and have published on the translation and adaptation of Old Norse texts.


I am Principal Investigator, with Daniel Derrin (Durham), of the Humours of the Past (HOP) Network. Follow us on Twitter @historichumour

I am Bibliography Editor for the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages project.

Research Grants

2017-19: What Am I? Riddles, Riddling Language and World View in Old Norse Poetry - AHRC Leadership Fellows Scheme

2017: The Saga of the Conspirators. Impact, Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation award, University of Aberdeen

2016-17: Humours of the Past - AHRC Research Networking Scheme (with Daniel Derrin)

2016: Censured and Censuring: Humour, Laughter and Identity in (early) Scandinavian Society - Royal Society of Edinburgh Small Grants Scheme

2015: Humours of the Past - Principal's Interdisciplinary Fund, University of Aberdeen


Teaching Responsibilities

I am on research leave from most teaching and administrative duties during 2018-19. 

I am teaching and co-ordinating HI502J Old Norse 1: Language, Literature and Culture and am available for MLitt dissertation supervision.

I have previously been involved with the following courses:

HI1027 Making History
HI1526 Vikings!
RS1508 Religions of the World 2
HI355K Old Norse Language and Society (Coordinator)
HI306A/HI406A Back in the Viking Homelands
HI502J Old Norse 1: Language, Literature and Culture (Coordinator)
HI552J Old Norse 2: Language, Runes and Place-Names
Undergraduate and MLitt dissertation supervision

I was nominated for an Excellence in Postgraduate Teaching Award in 2015 and 2017.

PGR supervision

I am lead supervisor for the following PhD students:

Pam Corray, 'Children Not Seen and Not Heard in Old Norse Literature'
Heidi Synnøve Djuve, 'The Medieval Scandinavian Specula'
Jennifer Hemphill, 'Weather Magic in Medieval Scandinavia'
Solveig Marie Wang, 'Investigating the Nature of Norse-Sámi Relations in the Middle Ages'
Caroline Wilhelmsson, 'The Perception and Depiction of Swedish Identity in 13th-century Old Norse Literature'

Second supervisor for:

Cattlyn Obel, 'The West Semitic origins of Thor’s combat with Jormungandr'

Former students:

Dr Stefan Drechsler, ‘Making Manuscripts at Helgafell in the Fourteenth Century’ (2017)
Dr Keith Ruiter, ‘Mannjafnaðr: A Study of Normativity, Transgression, and Social Pragmatism in Medieval Scandinavia’ (2018)
Dr Claire Organ, ‘Colour in the Eddic Mythological Poems’ (2019)

I would be happy to hear from students wishing to undertake doctoral research in any area of Old Norse-Icelandic literature, culture and history.

Profiles for current postgraduate research in the Centre for Scandinavian Studies can be viewed here: Scandinavian Studies Postgraduates.

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Honorary Secretary, Viking Society for Northern Research (2019-)
Steering Group Member, History UK (2016-19)

Admin Responsibilities

Director, Centre for Scandinavian Studies
Programme Director, MLitt in Scandinavian Studies
Member, School Research Committee

I have previously been:

History Department Student Engagement and Employability Officer (2015-17)
Elected Representative for History, DHP Teaching and Learning Committee (2015-16)

Professional Development

April-July 2017 - Participant in Scottish Crucible 2017.
December 2015 - April 2016 - Participant in Aurora programme for women in Higher Education (Leadership Foundation).

Community Engagement

July 2017 - So You Think Vikings Are Funny Do You? Performance in collaboration with Aberdeen Performing Arts, at Underdog, Aberdeen.

May 2017 - 'Viking Humour'. Public lecture at May Festival 2017.

September 2016 - The Saga of the Conspirators. Performance in collaboration with Aberdeen Performing Arts, at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen.

December 2015 - Rune Carol. Adapted from the Old English and Scandinavian rune poems in collaboration with Johan Hugosson (composer), the Embassy of Sweden in London and The Financial Times.