Hrafnkels Saga or Hrafnkels Rímur?: Medieval Prose and Early Modern Poetry as Competing Sources of Icelandic Identity and Place


Colin Gioia Connors (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Scholars sometimes puzzle over contradictions between place-lore in medieval manuscripts and place-lore preserved orally by local inhabitants. The place-lore of Hrafnkelsdalur in Iceland reveals the contrasting interests, values, and forms of expertise wielded by scholars, locals, and highland industrial and tourism developments in their attempts to reconcile local and national place-based identities. By considering the history of habitation in Hrafnkelsdalur, as well as local eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ballads, I argue that local place-names reflect local understandings of place-based local narrative traditions, which are often obscured by antiquarian and nationalistic interests in connecting Icelandic place-names and place-lore to that totem of Icelandic national identity, the Sagas of Icelanders.

Part of 24-04 Speaking Through/With Time and Tradition: Nordic Case Studies, Tuesday, October 19, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm