27 March - Stories for Our Times? Retelling the Norse Myths
School of English
Dr Tom Birkett
Wednesday 27 March, 3-4 pm
O'Rahilly Building, Room 2.12
The Norse Myths, published by Quercus in 2018, is the latest in a long line of retellings of the myths and legends of medieval Scandinavia; tales that, as the publisher’s blurb points out, ‘have captured the imagination of storytellers and artists for centuries’. Reworking the Norse myths for a commercial press offered an opportunity to reflect on both the longstanding creative appeal of the myths and also the extraordinary resurgence of interest in recent years: what exactly is it about the Vikings and the stories of the Norse gods that resonates with our current cultural climate? This talk will draw out some of the points of connection, and fracture, that a popular retelling rests upon, and suggest some of the ways that a reworking of traditional material can be used to speak to contemporary concerns – including environmental change, gender politics, and the resurgence of the far-right – whilst also seeking to remain faithful to the medieval sources and to the contradictions and plurality of the myths that have come down to us.
Tom joined UCC in 2012, after studying at Leeds, Oslo and Oxford. He publishes on Old English and medieval Icelandic textual and literary culture, and has recently led two IRC-funded projects in Cork on the translation of medieval poetry, and on the popular perception of the Vikings (the World-Tree Project). A new collection on Reimagining the Vikings is in press with Medieval Institute Publications, and his illustrated retelling of the Norse myths was published by Quercus in December.