53rd ICMS Kalamazoo: The Saints in Icelandic Sagas and Poetry after 1550

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Daniel C. Najork
contact email: 

The 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Michigan), May 10-13

The Saints in Icelandic Sagas and Poetry after 1550

Organizer: Daniel C. Najork


In a 2014 essay, Martin Chase laments the scholarly neglect of Icelandic devotional literature of the later Middle Ages and post-Reformation period. Chase points out that “medievalist scholars naturally tend to shy away from sixteenth-century texts” and early modernists often look forward rather than to the past.[1] Because of this neglect, we lack a detailed picture of the process of religious change in Iceland. In popular imagination, the split between Catholicism and Protestantism throughout Europe is often discussed in binary terminology. But this kind of language simplifies the real complexities of religious change. Manuscripts containing sagas and poetry dedicated to the saints were not only preserved after the Reformation, new paper copies were often produced as well. Research has been done on the continued usage of manuscripts of Margrétar saga after the Reformation, for example, but much work remains to be done. This session will seek proposals which will examine the role of the saints in Iceland after 1550. Papers focusing on material objects, texts, patrons, scribes, and readers are particularly welcomed.

Please send abstracts of 500 words and a Participant Information Form (available on the Congress website) to Daniel.Najork@asu.edu by September 20, 2017

[1] See Martin Chase, “Devotional Poetry at the End of the Middle Ages,” in Martin Chase Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond: Poetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014, pp. 135-148.