A Vision of the Skald

I’m thrilled to announce that my MPhil thesis, “A Vision of the Skald: Seeking the Ideal in the Probable Works of Snorri Sturluson,” is now available on the University of Oslo’s public research archive. You can download and read it at: <https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/52012>. It is the capstone of my recently-completed joint MA/MPhil degree in Viking & Medieval Norse Studies from the Universities of Iceland and Oslo.

The main text clocks in at over 36,000 words, exclusive of footnotes and bibliography. It also includes some original poetry of mine: a pair of five-stanza fornyrðislag poems as the foreword and the afterword. Featured in my analysis is the Mead Myth and related material in Edda and then a review of the skalds and the roles that they take in the action of Heimskringla and Egils saga. The abstract for my thesis is below.

It is well known that Snorra Edda seeks to preserve and promote skaldic verse, heavily focusing on what is required to compose and understand such verse. Kevin Wanner, in his book Snorri Sturluson and the Edda, has argued that Snorri wrote Edda with an eye to preserving the relevancy of such verse to Norwegian court life and its ability to gain rewards from kings and chieftains, and thus also promoting a demand for the skilled craftsmen who produced it: skalds. Promoting such a figure necessarily requires that Snorri had some ideal in mind to communicate. Furthermore, it may be reasonably expected that such a project would not be limited to Edda, but would also be manifested in his other works. Therefore, this study seeks to reveal the vision of the skald that may be underlying the three works which are most often attributed to Snorri Sturluson with varying degrees of confidence: Edda, Heimskringla, and Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar. As these works are diverse in style, content, and audience, I seek as comprehensive a picture as possible. This includes the skald s role, how he views his craft, and much more — nearly everything revealed about the skald in these works except the rules of versification. Looking at whether and how the works may promote a demand for skalds and a desire to be a skald is a major tool in my analysis. A close reading of the skald-related mythology in Edda also figures prominently. I find that a vision of the skald may indeed be derived from these works. It is a multi-faceted vision that orients the skald with respect to the gods, the past, myth, poetry itself, training, duties, relations to others, and more. It is one that indeed promotes a demand for skalds and a desire to be a skald, and it makes an affirmative contribution to the case for Snorri’s authorship.


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