Northern Myths, Modern Identities

The Nationalisation of Northern Mythologies Since 1800


This anthology of essays, Northern Myths, Modern Identities, explores the various ways in which ancient mythologies have been cultivated in the cultural construction of ethnic, national and supra-national identities from 1800 to the present. How were Old Norse, Finno-Ugric and Frisian myths employed as rhetorical devices in national narratives? And how did (and do) these new interpretations convey a sense of ‘northernness’? This volume approaches these issues from an interdisciplinary and international perspective, and brings together case studies from Scandinavia, the Baltic region, Friesland, Britain, the United States and even Japan. Thus, it provides a unique insight into the reception history and uses of northern myths in the present, and their role in the creation of modern identities.

Contributors are: Tim van Gerven, Gylfi Gunnlaugsson, Simon Halink, Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson, Otto S. Knottnerus, Joep Leerssen, Daisy Neijmann, Han Nijdam, Robert A. Saunders, Katja Schulz, Tom Shippey, Carline Tromp, and Kendra Willson.

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Simon Halink, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Iceland. He has published on the role of Norse mythology and philology in nationalism and on images of Iceland in Nazi Germany.

 List of Figures and Tables
 About the Authors
Northern Myths, Modern Identities: An Introduction
Simon Halink

Part 1: Imagining the North

 1The North: A Cultural Stereotype between Metaphor and Racial Essentialism
Joep Leerssen
 2Within or Outside Europe? Modernists and Anti-modernists Visiting Iceland in the Mid-nineteenth Century
Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson
 3Is Nordic Mythology Nordic or National, or Both? Competing National Appropriations of Nordic Mythology in Early Nineteenth-Century Scandinavia
Tim van Gerven

Ancient Heritage, New Meaning

 4Norse Myths, Nordic Identities: The Divergent Case of Icelandic Romanticism
Gylfi Gunnlaugsson
 5Redbad, the Once and Future King of the Frisians
Han Nijdam and Otto S. Knottnerus
 6Norse Mythology in Icelandic Fiction about the Second World War
Daisy L. Neijmann
 7Of Gods and Men: Uses and Abuses of Neo-Paganism by Nationalist Movements in the “North”
Robert A. Saunders

Part 3: Travelling Ideas and Artistic Expressions

 8Heirs of Lönnrot: From Longfellow to Tolkien
Tom Shippey
 9Kalevala in International Masks: A JapaneseAino and Kalevala dell’arte
Kendra Willson
 10The Quest of Gangleri: Theosophy and Old Norse Mythology in Iceland
Simon Halink

Part 4: Beyond the Nation?

 11Crossing the Borders: Loki and the Decline of the Nation State
Katja Schulz
 12Apocalypse Now: Norse Gods and the End of the Nation
Carline Tromp
 Index of Names and Subjects
All who are interested in the reception history of mythology, northernness, the development of national identities and processes of nation-building from the nineteenth century to the present.
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