Konferenssit ja seminaarit

Jarl Gallén -palkintoseminaari

Kuudes Jarl Gallén -palkinto on myönnetty professori Stephen Mitchellille Harvardin yliopistosta. Jarl Gallén -palkinto myönnetään joka kolmas vuosi ansioituneelle pohjoismaisen keskiajan tutkijalle. Aiempia palkinnonsaajia ovat Sverre Bagge, Monika Hedlund, Anders Andrén, Lars Boje Mortensen ja Lena Liepe.

Professori Mitchell on pohjoismaisen keskiajan kulttuurin ja elämän merkittävä asiantuntija. Hän on julkaissut monipuolisesti muun muassa saagoista, noituudesta, keskiaikaisesta kansanperinteestä sekä naiskokemuksesta 1600-luvulla. Aiemmin professori Mitchelille on myönnetty esimerkiksi Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademienin Dag Strömbäck -palkinto sekä Aarhusin yliopiston kunniatohtorin arvonimi.

Palkinnonjakotilaisuus pidetään Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran juhlasalissa Hallituskatu 1:ssä klo 13:00 tiistaina 5.11.2019. Palkinnon jakaa Helsingin yliopiston kansleri Kaarle Hämeri. Professori Mitchell pitää tilaisuudessa luennon otsikolla “Magic and Memory in the Medieval North”, jota seuraa neljän puhujan seminaari Mitchellin tutkimuksiin liittyvistä teemoista. Tilaisuuteen on vapaa pääsy.


The Jarl Gallén Prize Seminar
5.11.2019, 13:00-17:00
The Great Hall of the Finnish Literature Society (Hallituskatu 1, Helsinki)


Opening words

Dr. Tuomas M. S. Lehtonen (Secretary General, the Finnish Literature Society)

The Jarl Gallén Prize ceremony

Prof. Stephen Mitchell is introduced by prof. Peter Stadius (Chair, the Jarl Gallén Prize Committee) and the prize is presented by prof. Kaarle Hämeri (Chancellor of the University of Helsinki)

Prize lecture

Prof. Stephen Mitchell (Harvard University): “Magic and Memory in the Medieval North”

Comment: Dr. Kirsi Kanerva (Chair, Glossa: the Society for Medieval Studies in Finland)


Paper session

Chair: prof. Anu Lahtinen (University of Helsinki)

1) Marko Lamberg (Tampere University): ”Traces of Medieval Magic in Early Modern Urban Culture: The Case of Stockholm in the Seventeenth Century”

2) Kati Kallio (Finnish Literature Society / University of Helsinki): ”Long Continuums of Vernacular Belief in Finnish 17th-century Charms”

3) Frog (University of Helsinki): ”Narrating Magic of the ’Other’ in the North: Memory, Tradition, Cultural Transposition and Meaning Construction”

4) Ilya Sverdlov (University of Helsinki): ”Word ōþer fand, sōðe gebunden, or, (Old) Iceland(ic) is Your (Proust’s) Cup of Tea: Compound Noun Morphology in an Environment Where Everybody Remembers Everything”



Marko Lamberg (Tampere University): ”Traces of Medieval Magic in Early Modern Urban Culture: The Case of Stockholm in the Seventeenth Century.”

The Swedish Reformation started in Stockholm, but neither that fact nor the evolving of Stockholm into a capital of a realm during the seventeenth century abolished the presence of magic in the everyday life of its inhabitants. Notices in court records show that early modern magical practices contained continuities from the Catholic era and that they were often carried out by migrants.

These patterns had long roots: as Stephen Mitchell has shown in his studies, older pagan traditions had mixed with Christian interpretations on the Devil in late fifteenth-century Stockholm. The earliest known sorcerer consulted by Stockholmers was a woman of Finnish origin living in the countryside of Uppland. She may have been a professional healer. In seventeenth-century Stockholm, migrants and especially Finns, men and women, could support themselves by acting as healers and sorcerers.

The accusations made during the great witch hunt in Stockholm 1675-1676 show that medieval beliefs on magic were still very alive in the growing capital. Several testimonies contained also clearly agrarian traits, which can be explained by the fact that many Stockholmers were migrants from the countryside. There were also several people of migrant background among the accused ones as well as among the accusers. It is possible that exercise of magic had been professionalised in Stockholm, a relatively big city, and that its existence, like the whole early modern urban community itself, was dependent on the continuous influx of newcomers.

Kati Kallio (Finnish Literature Society / University of Helsinki): “Long Continuums of Vernacular Belief in Finnish 17th-century Charms.”

The oldest corpus of Finnish oral poems in so-called Kalevala meter consists of almost 70 charms in 17th-century court records. They represent the whole area of contemporary Finland, with some examples from contemporary Sweden and Estonia. Most of the charms are composed in traditional oral Kalevala meter, but there are also texts in prose and rhythmic prose. The defendants were not willing to perform, and they had various reasons to give as short, Christian or distorted versions as possible. The length of these texts varies from some verses to 51 lines.

These texts fit into the long and versatile continuums of vernacular belief. Pre-Christian elements, medieval and early modern ecclesiastical formulas, vernacular Christianity, and 16th century Lutheran prayers are mixed into varying combinations. While the majority of these charms relate to healing, they also exemplify various cases of harmful magic and one instance of worshiping Ukko, the Pagan high god. Put together with the 18th–20th-century folklore collections, these texts make the longest documented continuum of Finnic vernacular poetry and mythology.

Frog (University of Helsinki): ”Narrating Magic of the ’Other’ in the North: Memory, Tradition, Cultural Transposition and Meaning Construction.”

Narrating ’magic’ in the medieval North is often concerned with narrating otherness from the perspective of Christians. Such otherness is compounded where religious and potentially supernatural otherness is compounded by ethnic otherness. This paper takes up the much-discussed account of Laplanders performing a schamanic ritual in the twelfth-century Historia Norwegiae and considers the possibility that it may reflect contemporary legend traditions as a social construction and circulation of knowledge of the ’other’. This narrative is contrasted with later Scandinavian, Finnish and Karelian legend traditions of Laplander shamanism.  The medieval story is shown to correspond in content and structure to a story in the early twelfth-century Russian Primary Chronicle, where it is told about Čud’s. When the narrative pattern is recognized, it is shown to be behind a story of sorcery in Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Iceland. The case is discussed in terms of socially circulating understandings of magic of the ’other’ that both operate as social memory and shape social memory of the past although they may be constituted of traditional elements that get projected on different cultures in a variety of contexts.

Ilya V. Sverdlov (HCAS, University of Helsinki): “Word ōþer fand, sōðe gebunden, or, (Old) Iceland(ic) is your (Proust’s) cup of tea: compound noun morphology in an environment where everybody remembers everything.”

The famous “madelaine” episode from Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (Book 1, Du côté de chez Swann, at the very end of Combray part, section 1; Pléiade 4 vols edition, vol. 1, pp. 43–47) deals with a trigger: the narrator carries the entire contents of his life’s memory in himself, yet the contents are somehow inaccessible, as if forgotten, and only appear out of his cup of tea upon him tasting it. The old familiar smell triggers, to use a programming language term, a retrieval procedure that accesses the contents that are assumedly present – yet whose very existence, before the triggering, is questionable (indeed questioned by the narrator himself, e.g. on p. 43): are they there or not, so long as they are non-observable for an outside viewer before triggering occurs?

In this paper, we discuss a few cases of the so-called truncation of multi-stem compound nouns in Old Norse and Modern Icelandic: certain compound nouns, especially place names, may appear complete yet in fact have “missing parts” which, though invisible like Combray narrator’s memories, are nevertheless there and in need of retrieval from the native speaker’s memory for correct understanding of spatial references, or for translation into a foreign language. We also discuss what are the linguistic/cultural triggers for retrieval of these parts, and how can we be sure that there are indeed parts missing (as opposed to simply absent, non-existing), contrasting this case, somewhat peculiar to Icelandic grammar (or mind?), with the more usual cases in other languages where parts of utterances are only half-missing in specific constructions like coordinated ellipsis and depend much less on pure memory (or, to use the Old English expression from line 871 of Bēowulf, ‘the bonds of truth’), for their retrieval.

Seminaarin järjestää Helsingin yliopiston Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) ja Glossa ry. Thure Galléns Stiftelsen rahoituksella.

Lisätietoja Gallén-palkinnosta englanniksi: CENS: the Jarl Gallén Prize.

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