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 cold Oslo winter persisted, and the Skald fortified himself for the long siege, working diligently on his master’s thesis. But after 15 weeks, as winter’s assault finally relented, the Skald finished his glorious text of 36,000 words about his ancient counterpart, the figure of the skald as found in the probable works of Snorri Sturluson: Edda, Heimskringla, and Egils saga. After a brief celebration and much relaxing that included plenty of sight-seeing, the Skald prepared to face the final contest in his master’s degree. With his lady from his time in Iceland by his side once more, he undertook the ordeal of a trial-by-lecture in a runology course and emerged victorious. It is said he celebrated the day with fine rum and a cigar in the afternoon, and by a sushi dinner and a bottle of mead with his lady in the evening. He rested the next day, composing this verse:
My wode had waxed through the winter’s dark
and opened my flow of artful words.
O’er pages of ink, I poured the Mead,
Autumn rolled on as the months passed. The Skald finished his first semester courses in time to celebrate his birthday in a state of total rest. December was not so cold in Oslo as one might have expected. January made up for it, however, when winter arrived in earnest. After that birthday rest, however, a protracted fight with doctoral program applications commenced. It dragged on longer than expected, running into mid January, but at last it was finished. The new year brought a new semester, the last of the Skald’s MA in Viking & Medieval Norse Studes, which held some long-awaited treats: his master’s thesis and an advanced runology course, the latter to be examined by trial lecture. Once in the thick of things, the Skald considered his situation, and composed this verse:
The turning wheel brought time for rest,
as I completed courses and passed the solstice.
The future is foggy for my further studies,
As the equinox passed and night began to overtake day in the ancient Viking land of Oslo, the Skald was well settled into his studies for the fall semester, which included ancient runes, the rhetoric of the elder skalds, and the tongue and poetry of the noble Anglo-Saxons. (Just like the last two semesters, he couldn’t resist signing up for four classes this time around.) Never content to leave anything to the last minute, the Skald’s thoughts also turned to the future and where he might next live the life of the mind, although that was still a long way off. Looking further forward to the winter break and writing a thesis in the next semester, he then composed this verse:
Dark drains daylight as I dare the Ascent:
for forty credits I further go,
As the summer heat of his homeland approached its peak, the Skald prepared his ship to sail from Vinland onward to new adventures in Norway. Aided by runes of good fortune, the sailing was smooth and the Skald beached his ship in the bay and established his farmstead of Nýja Hof in the cozy little village of Sogn Studentby in the northern part of Olso. Unlike the somewhat barren landscape of Reykjavík, this place was teeming with grass and trees, and the sun was still bright and warm. Once settled in and ready for the start of classes, the Skald noted that it was the day of a new moon, reflected on the seasonal cycles and the work ahead (especially that of his master’s thesis), and composed this verse:
A bright sun shines on my bold adventure,
which now continues in a new country.
In Bragi’s land, I’ve beached my ship