Welcome

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: "Walter Baetke" in the Literary Encyclopedia

Walter Hugo Hermann Baetke (28 March 1884 [Sternberg] – 15 February 1978 [Leipzig]), was a German medievalist whose manifold studies on the history of Germanic religions, Old Norse mythology, and saga literature had a significant impact on international Scandinavian studies. Baetke played an important role...

van Nahl, Jan Alexander. "Walter Baetke". The Literary Encyclopedia 1.4.1. German-language Writing and Culture (1747-678X), ed. by Gerhard P. Knapp et al. First published 28 November 2022.

New publication: "Heinrich Beck" in the Literary Encyclopedia

"Heinrich Beck (2 April 1929 [Dürrenzimmern] – 5 June 2019 [Aschheim]) was a German scholar in Old Germanic and Old Norse Studies, and a leading figure in the re-orientation of Germanic Studies throughout the second half of the twentieth century. He became internationally renowned ...  "

van Nahl, Jan Alexander. "Heinrich Beck". The Literary Encyclopedia 1.4.1. German-language Writing and Culture (1747-678X), ed. by Gerhard P. Knapp et al. First published 17 November 2022.

New publication/new publication series

Medieval Scandinavian Studies—Whence, Whereto, Why
(open access)

Medieval Scandinavian Studies started emerging as a discipline in the 19th century, at a time when Old Norse literature had become an important source both for the reconstruction of an alleged Germanic worldview, and the substantiation of national political claims. Scholars in the early 20th century consolidated this view, and thereby even coined public ideas of a Germanic past that became influential in the reception of the Middle Ages in general. To the present day, the popular fascination with these Middle Ages thus is strongly informed by Old Norse sources, and a wealth of recent adaptations seem to perpetuate this view. However, the same sources, as well as earlier scholarship, are used by extremist groups to substantiate populist and racist claims. Scholars in Medieval Scandinavian Studies find themselves at the intersection of these conflicting and yet connected spheres of appropriation.

This is the introduction to a series of articles, edited by me as special issue of the journal Humanities.

Hugvísindaþing 2022: Hending og óvissa í fornsögunum

Breytingar og byltingar áttu sér stað í samfélagi, trúarbrögðum, vísindum og heimspeki allsstaðar í Evrópu fr.o.m. 12. öld. Bókmenntir á þjóðtungum hófust á sama tímabili í Mið- og Norður-Evrópu og óhætt er að segja að þróun þeirra sé tengd þeim breytingum. Staðan manneskjunnar í heiminum sýndist ekki lengur óbreytanleg, heldur voru nýir möguleikar fyrir hendi, en á sama tíma fólu þessar breytingar mikla óvissu í sér. Virðast bókmenntir hafa verið ein leið til að velta þeirri óvissu fyrir sér. Í málstofunni verður fjallað um mismunandi fornsögur í ljósi þeirrar áskorunar.

https://hugvisindathing.hi.is/malstofur/hending-og-ovissa-i-fornsogunum/

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)