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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 at the University of York, where the city's visible layers of history, Norse-influenced street names, and the opportunity to study unusual things (Old English and Old Norse, among others) all contributed to me falling in love with medieval languages, literatures and cultures. I stayed on for an MA in Medieval Studies, followed by a PhD examining literary-legal relations in early Iceland. I was finally persuaded away from the charms of northern England for a postdoctoral position in sunny Sydney, where I worked on the international research project Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (2007-12). On my return to the UK I started inching north, with a stint as a Junior Research Fellow at Durham University, before coming to Aberdeen as Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies in September 2014. Since then I have spent time as an ERASMUS Visiting Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna, and am currently Senior Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Scandinavian Studies.
My main research interests are in the medieval North, particularly Old Norse-Icelandic literature, language, culture, and society. During 2017-19 I held 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 current 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.
In 2020-21 I am involved with the following courses:
HI1027 Making History HI2526 Vikings: An Introduction (co-ordinator) HI356J Thinking History HI4026 Special Subject: Myths of the North (co-ordinator) HI502J Old Norse 1: Language, Literature and Culture (co-ordinator) HI552M Old Norse 2: Language, Individuals and Society (co-ordinator) HI5594 Research Preparation in Historical Studies Undergraduate and MLitt dissertation supervision.
I was nominated for an Excellence in Postgraduate Teaching Award in 2015 and 2017.
I am lead supervisor for the following PhD researchers:
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' Neal Locke, 'Personal Transformation in Medieval Scandinavian Literature: Three Case Studies' Nate Richardson-Read, 'Queer Themes in Old Norse Mythology' Solveig Marie Wang, 'Investigating the Nature of Norse-Sámi Relations in the Middle Ages' Caroline Wilhelmsson, 'Swedish Identity, c.800-c.1288'
Second supervisor for:
Hamza Aziz, 'Morality in Viking Age Scandinavia' Ingrid Hegland, 'An Interdisciplinary Reassessment of the Causes of the Viking Age' Cattlyn Obel, 'The West Semitic Origins of Thor’s Combat with Jormungandr'
Former PhD 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.