54th ICMS Kalamazoo. Manuscript Culture and the Reception of Medieval Literature in Post-Reformation Iceland

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Daniel Najork, Arizona State University
contact email: 

54th International Congress on Medieval Studies. May 9-12, 2019. Kalamazoo, Michigan


Special Session: Manuscript Culture and the Reception of Medieval Literature in Post-Reformation Iceland


Organizer: Daniel C. Najork, Arizona State University

Presider: Daniel C. Najork, Arizona State University

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] There are indeed a great number of Icelandic paper manuscripts from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries that transmit medieval devotional verse, Heilagra manna sögur (Sagas of Saints), Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Icelanders), and Riddarasögur (Sagas of Knights/Romances) and deserve greater attention. In nineteenth and twentieth centuries critical editions of Icelandic medieval texts these later paper manuscripts are often ignored and considered to be of little textual value. But these manuscripts attest to continued engagement with medieval literature and can tell us a great deal about transmission and reception history and the continuance of manuscript culture in Iceland.

Topics might include, but are not limited to the following:

-          The collecting, preserving, and rebinding of medieval manuscripts

-          Identification of post-medieval scribes, patrons, locations of manuscript production, etc.

-          The contents of paper manuscripts

  • What kinds of texts are gathered together in manuscripts?

-          How did early modern scribes treat medieval material?

  • Did they edit as they copied?


Please send a one-page abstract and the Participant Information Form (https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions) to Daniel.Najork@asu.edu by September 15th.


[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.