May 4, 2000 Two-Day Symposium on Old Norse Sagas To Be Held at the Library of Congress

Public Contact: (202) 707-8498
Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

The Library of Congress and the Cornell University Library are sponsoring a scholarly symposium on Old Norse sagas at the Library of Congress on May 24 and 25, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. The symposium, "Saga Literature and the Shaping of Icelandic Culture," will feature five sessions presented by distinguished scholars in the field of Old Icelandic studies.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but reservations are necessary by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone from the Library of Congress (202) 707-8498. Those desiring information on access for individuals with disabilities are asked to make their requests five working days in advance when contacting the organizers.

The symposium will coincide with the opening at the Library of Congress of an exhibition, "Living and Reliving the Icelandic Sagas," a collaborative effort of the National and University Library of Iceland, the Library of Congress, the University of Manitoba Library and the Cornell University Library. The exhibit will open in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress on May 24 and continue through July 15.

More information on the symposium and exhibition is available through a link on the home page of the Fiske Icelandic Collection at External.

The Library of Congress, founded April 24, 1800, is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. It preserves a collection of 119 million items -- more than two-thirds of which are in media other than books. In addition to its primary mission of preserving the research needs of the U.S. Congress, the Library serves all Americans through its popular Web site ( and its 22 reading rooms on Capitol Hill.

The Cornell University Library is one of the largest academic research libraries in the United States. Now composed of 19 specialized libraries ranging from Africana to veterinary medicine, the Cornell University Library has more than 6 million printed volumes and subscribes to more than 60,000 journals and more than 1,000 networked resources.


Wednesday, May 24, 1 p.m.

Sagas and the Icelandic Manuscript Tradition

  • Stefán Karlsson, Iceland: "The Manuscript Tradition of the Icelandic Sagas"
  • Rudolf Simek, Austria: "Sagas, Manuscripts and the Liberal Arts"
  • Matthew James Driscoll, United States: "The Long and Winding Road: Manuscript Transmission in Post-Medieval Iceland"

Sagas and Daily Life in the Icelandic Commonwealth

  • Jenny Jochens, United States: "Gudrídr Thorbjarnardóttir: Transmitter of Pagan Culture and Christian Religion"
  • Vésteinn Ólason, Iceland: "Söguligr atburdr: An Event Worthy of a Tale"
  • Jesse Byock, United States: "Social Memory and the Sagas: The Case of Egils saga"
  • Theodore M. Andersson, United States: "A Note on the Prehistory of Saga Criticism"

Thursday May 25, 10 a.m.

Voyages and Travel in Medieval Europe as Depicted in Saga Literature

  • Margaret Clunies Ross, Australia: "Home and Away: The Semantics of Travel in Icelandic Saga Literature"
  • Geraldine Barnes, Australia: "Travel and the Mapping of Cultural Identity in Saga Narrative"
  • Lars Lönnroth, Sweden: "Where Microspace Meets Macrospace: The Travels of Norna-Gest and Abbot Nikolas"

Influence of the Sagas on Modern Nordic Literature

  • Jón Karl Helgason, Iceland: "A Modern Biography of Hallgerdur: Icelandic Sagas, Henry James and Dorothy James Roberts"
  • Régis Boyer, France: "The Narrative Genius of the North"
  • Torfi H. Tulinius, Iceland: "Grettir and Bjartur: Realism and the Supernatural in Medieval and Modern Icelandic Literature"

Saga Literature and Its Relation to Modern Visual Arts and Music

  • Andrew Wawn, United Kingdom: "Picturing the Sagas: Some Victorian Perspectives"
  • Adalsteinn Ingólfsson, Iceland: "Icelandic Modern Art and the Sagas: Constructing and Deconstructing a Heritage"

Kristín Bragadóttir of the National and University Library of Iceland and Patrick J. Stevens of Cornell University Library will share moderation of the symposium sessions.


PR 00-072
ISSN 0731-3527