Crossing Disciplinary Borders in Viking Age Studies

Problems, Challenges and Solutions

The 7th Austmarr Symposium

Tartu 1–3 December 2017


Conference announcement on University of Tartu site

What happens when scholars cross the disciplinary borders? What problems are there when a scholar uses the material from one discipline to interpret the material from an entirely different one, and how should the problems be solved? Interdisciplinarity is a prestige word in the academic world. In practice, it has turned out to be more problematic. Material, methods and research issues are often of very different kinds in different disciplines. This is well-known in research on the Viking Age. In the textually orientated research, among philologists and historians of literature, many scholars have a skeptical attitude towards the use of written sources – often considerably later Icelandic texts – by archaeologists and historians of religion. Archaeologists tend to be more open towards crossing the disciplinary borders and towards using written sources in their interpretation. Historians of religion often use literary sources from different periods as well as archaeological material and later folklore in their reconstructions of pre-Christian belief and cult. Linguists often discuss etymologies in terms of language contacts and place names in terms of distribution without situating them in relation to other aspects of culture. There has also been a recent revival of interest in post-medieval folklore into discussion of the Viking Age.


The 7th Austmarr symposium is devoted to the problems of interdisciplinarity and the combination of different kinds of material. We call for papers on the possibilities and problems of crossing the traditional discipline borders in research on Northern Europe in pre-Hanseatic time. We call for theoretical and methodological discussions based on concrete examples. Papers on all kinds of interdisciplinarity in the study of medieval and Iron-Age Northern Europe are welcome. A main aim of the symposium is to promote a better understanding and more fruitful communication between disciplines which share common interests and concerns.

Keynote speakers:

Jens Peter Schjødt, University of Aarhus

Henrik Janson, University of Gothenburg

Lydia Carstens, ZBSA, Schloss Gottorf


All researchers (including PhD students) who are interested in presenting their ideas or research results connected to these or similar topics are encouraged submit proposals for 20-minute paper presentations (followed by 10 minutes of discussion). The venue of the symposium will be University of Tartu, Department of Scandinavian Studies.


Please send short abstracts by September 1 to Further information can be found on the symposium website:


Daniel Sävborg, Professor of Scandinavian Studies

University of Tartu