My name is Jan Alexander van Nahl, and I am a scholar specialized in medieval (Icelandic) literature and culture, the history of 20th-century (German) scholarship, and the digital humanities. This is my university blog where you can find up-to-date information on my academic activities. Scroll down for my most recent posts, have a look at the archives, or check out the categories above. Thanks for your interest!

New publication: "A waste of effort"? Towards a Reassessment of the Old Norse Kings’ Sagas

Jan Alexander van Nahl 2021: »A waste of effort«? Towards a Reassessment of the Old Norse Kings’ Sagas (With a Comment on a ›Living Handbook of Old Norse Studies‹). In: Andreas Schmidt, Daniela Hahn (eds.): Unwanted Neglected Approaches, Characters, and Texts in Old Norse-Icelandic Saga Studies (Münchner Nordistische Studien 50). München, pp. 272-307. (open access)

New book

After seven years of reading, researching, and writing, my book on the role of contingency and chance in the Old Icelandic Kings' sagas has been published with de Gruyter!

Opening lecture

On Wednesday, October 20th, 16:30 GMT, I give the opening address at the lecture series "Flucht, Verfolgung, Diskriminierung und Fremdheit im Mittelalter" (Medievalia Graecensia, University of Graz, Austria), talking about what it means to be a foreigner, with particular regard to the Old Norse Kings' sagas. Everyone welcome: https://unigraz.webex.com/unigraz/j.php?MTID=m4d1b277ee89992f7d68d391f1e40a2e2

Fordæmalausir tímar? Um hlutverk kennslu í miðaldafræðum á krísutíma

Erindi á menntakviku 2021 (15.10.2021)

Markmið þessa verkefnis var að kanna hvort fagleg hugleiðing um sögulegar krísur hefði áhrif á viðhorf til COVID-19. Krísuhugtakið hefur verið áberandi rannsóknarefni á sviði miðaldabókmennta í áratugi og er þá fyrst og fremst um tengsl milli félagslegar og pólitískar krísu á Sturlungaöld og þróunar bókmennta á þeim tíma að ræða. Rannsóknarverkefnið sem hér er lagt fram snýr að því að kanna hvort krísuhugtakið sé fyrst og fremst fræðileg afstæð hugmynd sem tali lítið til raunveruleikans eða eða hvort hugleiðing um sögulegt samhengi af krísum skipti máli þegar veröldin og samfélagið lenda í krísu.

(Medieval) Scandinavian Studies: Call for Papers

Abstracts welcome! (deadline for submitting an abstract is October 31st)

(Medieval) Scandinavian studies have been subject to cutbacks in recent years. This current state asks for individual assessment within different contexts. Old Norse literature, as one example, is a favorite among laymen, yet the employment of experts who make these sources available is more precarious than ever. Even more troublesome, Old Norse lore is regularly used as a source for allegedly age-old pagan customs, and populist groups as well as social media are quick to exploit connotations far from any scholarly state of knowledge. Specialists in Scandinavian studies face the challenge to counteract the misinterpretation of their objects of study, but they also have to deal with the apparent disinterest of (university) politics to maintain their expertise in times of sociopolitical challenges. This special issue seeks to bring together opinions on this complex status quo, including recent developments at certain universities or in certain countries, the role of individuals in shaping the field, the (mis)use of Old Norse sources in politics and society, adaptions in modern media, as well as ideas of the North in public perception.

More info here.

This peer-reviewed publication is free of charge! Please let me know in case you have any question!