Welcome to my homepage. I am Professor of Icelandic literature at the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, School of Humanities, University of Iceland (address: Árnagarður, Suðurgata, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland). Visiting hours are by appointment (tel.: +354 525 4419, email: sye@hi.is).

Research and teaching area

My research and teaching area is modern Icelandic literature (1600–1900), including the reception of medieval literature, romanticism, literature and the environment (ecocriticism) and nationalism. For my publications, see the annotated bibliography on this page. My present and planned university courses can be seen here.

Research projects

During the last decade I have conducted two independent research projects, which have resulted in the publication of two monographs. In 2014, I concluded an ecocritical study of romantic and post-romantic Icelandic poetry with the publication of my book, The Nature of Poetry, which was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize. I then embarked on a study of national discourse and hybridity in literature and the arts, which is the subject of my 2019 book, Iceland in the Aegean. I have also worked with other researchers on four collective projects, which have been concluded during the last decade: 1) Inventing Culture. Defining Sources of Theory and Inspiration and the Long-Term Results of Culture Creation by Icelandic Intellectuals 1857–1874. 2) The Variance of Njál's Saga. 3) The influence of the reformation in Iceland. 4) Cultural Saints of the European Nation States. Presently I am working with five other researchers on a new history of Icelandic literature, which will be published soon.


B.A. in Comparative Literature, University of Iceland, 1984; M. Phil. in Scottish Literature, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 1992; M.A. in Icelandic Literature, University of Iceland, 1993; Dr. Phil. in Icelandic Literature, University of Iceland, 2000.

Professional work

Editor at the publishing house of Svart á hvítu, 1987–1989; teacher at The Reykjavík Grammar School, 1985–1986 and 1993–2000; Adjunct (2001–2005), Lecturer (2005), Senior Lecturer (2005–2008) and Professor (from 2008) at the Department of Icelandic at The University of Iceland; Co-editor of Skírnir, the periodical of The Icelandic Literary Society, 2000–2005; Head of the Department of Icelandic at the University of Iceland, 2012–2013; Chair of the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, 2014–2016; Chairman of The Institute of Literary Research at The University of Iceland, 2006–2008 and 2017–2020; member of the postgraduate committee of the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, 2019–2021.