Thanks for another successful year at Kalamazoo!

We’re back from the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and wish to thank the panelists who made this year’s panel so successful:

Alison Isberg (“Swords, Stones, and a Skald: Weapons and Masculine Identity in Anglo-Scandinavian Yorkshire”)

Maria Volkonskaya (Moscow State University & National Research University Higher School of Economics: “Insular Spelling Reforms in the Middle Ages: The Ormulum and the First Grammatical Treatise“)

Matthew Bardowell (St. Louis University: “Making Sense of Experience: Art in Response to Emotion in Egils Saga“)

Thanks as well to those who attended and contributed to the Q&A afterward. We’ll put out a call for the 2015 Congress later this summer!

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CFP for NESS panel for 49th ICMS (Kalamazoo 2014): The Anglo-Scandinavian World

The New England Saga Society is still seeking papers for its panel at the Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI (May 8-11, 2014).

This panel seeks papers addressing any aspect of the centuries-long cultural interaction among England, Iceland, and the Scandinavian world. Subjects might include saga literature, historical data, linguistic influence, commerce, archeological evidence, cultural exchanges, the depiction of one culture through the eyes of the other, etc. We encourage and welcome approaches from diverse disciplines.

Brief (200-250 word) proposal abstracts must be received before September 15, 2013. E-mail submission to either of the organizers is invited.

Panel organizers:

Andrew Pfrenger (

John P. Sexton (

We look forward to hearing from interested contributors!

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Medieval Icelandic Textiles: A Talk by Michele Hayeur Smith at Bridgewater State University (11/16/2012)

NESS is gearing up for a busy summer, as we begin planning panels for the coming year and as Andrew Pfrenger and I continue collecting submissions for the SMART issue on Teaching Old Norse Literature.

While those are going on, I’ve recently become aware that a talk on Medieval Icelandic Textiles, given by Michele Hayeur Smith at Bridgewater State University a few months ago, is now available on YouTube through BSU’s television project. Dr. Smith’s research is fascinating, and is worth a listen for anyone interested in learning more about textile production, gender studies, or archeology in a medieval Icelandic context. There’s a great deal here of direct consequence to anyone teaching or researching the sagas. I’m embedding it here for anyone who’d like easy access to it.

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Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue on Teaching Old Norse Literature

Exciting news! On behalf of the New England Saga Society, Andrew Pfrenger and John Sexton are pleased to announce plans for a special issue of Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching (SMART). This issue will address the subject of Teaching Old Norse Literature. We will consider proposals concerning any perspective on this subject, and are especially interested in essays offering innovative ideas for integrating Old Norse literature into the modern undergraduate curriculum.

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching is a journal of essays designed to assist teachers in communicating an understanding of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. SMART essays are scholarly and pedagogical, informative and practical. All papers are judged by at least two peer reviewers.

We invite short abstracts (250 words) from interested parties proposing articles of 3000-5000 words on all aspects of this topic.

We anticipate the following schedule:

Abstracts due: August 31, 2013

Completed articles due: June 30, 2014

Abstracts or requests for further information can be sent to either of the following (e-mail attachments preferred):


John P. Sexton
Department of English
Bridgewater State University
45 School St.
Bridgewater, MA 02325

Andrew M. Pfrenger
Department of English
Kent State University–Salem
2491 St. Rt. 45 South
Salem, OH 44460

Watch for updates on this site. We hope to hear from you soon!

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As we all head home from this year’s ICMS at Kalamazoo, The New England Saga Society would like to thank our roundtable participants and audience, who braved the early hour and inclement weather to take part in a spirited pooling of ideas for teaching Old Norse literature in the undergraduate classroom.

To follow up on a couple of sites recommended during the session:


Chris Fee’s homepage at Gettysburg College, offering syllabi, schedules, multimedia, and other information. Some of Fee’s treasure trove of saga assignments are available at:


Jesse Byock’s site attached to his newly-released “Viking Language Series,” offering text samples, audio recordings of Old Norse, teaching videos, and more.


N.E.S.S. will be submitting panels for the 2014 Congress very soon, and will be making other announcements about new projects in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, safe travels to all making their way home today!

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ICMS 2013 Session Announcement

N.E.S.S. is pleased to invite all interested parties to our organization-sponsored roundtable at the International Congress in Kalamazoo next month:

Session 207 (10AM Friday, May 10)

Saga Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom: Finding a Place for the Sagas Two and Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Moderator: Andrew M. Pfrenger (Kent State University at Salem)

  • John Sexton (Bridgewater State University) “How (and Why) to Run an Undergraduate Sagas Course”
  • Jesse Byock (University of California–Los Angeles) “Teaching Sagas and Old Norse in Two and Four Year Colleges and Universities: New Directions”
  • Chris Fee (Gettysburg College) “Setting a Saga Course Across the Medieval North Atlantic in the Liberal Arts Classroom”
  • Eric Carlson (University of South Carolina–Aiken) “Njal’s Saga as the Keystone Text in an Interdisciplinary Course”
  • Eric Bryan (Missouri University of Science and Technology) “Teaching Old Norse lit at an Engineering School”

We hope to see all those interested in saga studies and look forward to an exciting discussion.

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Call for Participants: NESS at Kalamazoo 2013 Roundtable on Teaching the Sagas

The Society will be proposing a roundtable for the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies. In 2008, NESS, which has from its 2003 inception made its primary goal the promotion of Saga studies in North American academe, gathered members of this community together for two round-tables on the state of the field in American universities. One of the themes that grew out of those discussions was the felt need for emphasis on teaching Scandinavian literature in the undergraduate classroom. Five years on, our 2013 panel will take up that issue with a discussion on the experiences, successes, and trials of those who teach sagas and other Scandinavian literature at two- and four-year colleges and universities.

We have several participants already lined up, but are interested in adding one or two more. If you have experience teaching the sagas and would like to join the conversation, please let us know! The organizers for this panel are John P. Sexton ( and Andrew Pfrenger (; either may be contacted with a brief statement of interest and relevant experience.

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