Brynja Thorgeirsdottir, Clare Hall

Degree: PhD
Course: ASNC
Supervisor: Dr Judy Quinn
Dissertation Title:

Emotions in Njals Saga and Egils Saga: Approaches and Literary Analysis


Biographical Information

I am a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, working on the DFG-AHRC funded project ‘The Íslendingasögur as Prosimetrum’. This is a collaborative project between the University of Cambridge and Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. The aim of the project is a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of the interaction of verse and prose in the Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Icelanders). The principal investigators are Dr Judy Quinn, (Cambridge), and Prof. Stefanie Gropper (Tübingen). The project is based on the hypothesis that the Íslendingasögur are not prose narratives randomly interspersed with verses, but that they are purposefully prosimetric. In the project we therefore treat the combination of verse and prose as a salient generic feature of this body of sagas.

My doctoral research centred on the emotional depiction in the Sagas of Icelanders. My thesis is titled ‘Emotions in Njáls saga and Egils saga: Approaches and Literary Analysis’. The viva voce examination took place on 23 March 2020.

I completed my MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland in 2015 with distinction. The dissertation topic was lovesickness in Egils saga. I also hold an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology from the same university, and I am very interested in how culture shapes human thinking and writing.

Prior to engaging in full-time research, I worked as a broadcast journalist and editor in Iceland. My fields were mainly culture, literature and language. Among many projects is the production of three television series on the history and wonders of the Icelandic language (Orðbragð), which all received the awards of the Icelandic Film and TV Academy. I additionally co-authored a book on the same subject, which was nominated for the literary prize of the Icelandic Association of Academic and Educational Authors. From 2013 I was a cultural editor for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV).

As for personal interests, they are first and foremost literature in the widest sense. I have also had Icelandic horses and enjoy riding and trekking in Icelandic nature.

Additionally, I teach Modern Icelandic at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. My full CV is accessible here.

Research Interests

I am interested in Old Norse literature and how it was shaped by medieval culture. I am also very interested in manuscript transmission, manuscript studies, emotions in literature, the history of emotions and literary history, as well as close comparative literary and textual analysis.

Areas of Supervision

Old Norse literature.

Selected Publications

2020, forthcoming: Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir, ‘The Language of Feeling in Njáls saga and Egils saga: Construction of an Emotional Lexis’, Scripta Islandica, 71 (2020).

2020. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir. ‘Emotions of a Vulnerable Viking: Negotiations of Masculinity in Egils saga’. Masculinities in Old Norse Literature, ed. by Gareth Lloyd Evans and Jessica Hancock, Studies in Old Norse Literature (Cambridge: Brewer, 2020), pp. 147–63.

2019. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir, ‘The Head, the Heart, and the Breast: Bodily Conceptions of Emotion and Cognition in Old Norse Skaldic Poetry’, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, 15 (2019), 29–64.

2019, forthcoming: Jonathan Y. H. Hui, Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir, Francesco Colombo, Caitlin Ellis, Kathryn A. Haley-Halinski, and James McIntosh. ‘Jóns saga leiksveins: A Text and Translation’. New Norse Studies, 1 (2019). [A collaborative English translation of the saga with an introduction.]

2018. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir. ‘Humoral Theory in the Medieval North: An Old Norse Translation of Epistula Vindiciani in Hauksbók’. Gripla, 29 (2018), pp. 35-66

2015. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir. ‘Elskhuginn Egill Skallagrímsson’. Skírnir, 2/2015, pp. 360-397. [On the lovesick Egil Skallagrímsson.]

2014. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir and Bragi Valdimar Skúlason. Orðbragð (Forlagið: Reykjavík, 2014). [A book on the diversities and history of the Icelandic language.]

2014. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir. Loforð um hneykslissögur. Radio episodes aired on Rás 1/The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. [Two episodes on the canonical Icelandic writer Þórbergur Þórðarson and his personal letters in Esperanto.] 

2013-2016. Orðbragð I, II & III. Script writer and presenter. Three television series on the wonders of the Icelandic language. Aired on RÚV/The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

2013. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir. Sjúkdómsgreining: Ást. Radio episode aired on Rás 1/The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. [On lovesickness in the Middle Ages.] 

2012. Brynja Þorgeirsdóttir. ‘Samtal yfir tvö þúsund ár. Um tengsl Skugga-Baldurs og Ummyndana Óvíðs’. TMM, Tímarit Máls og menningar, 3/2012, pp. 42-50. [On the relationship between Sjón´s Blue Fox and Ovid´s Metamorphoses.