Call for Participants

Old Norse Poetry in Performance
Two-day conference, 24-25 June 2016

Somerville College, Oxford.

The co-convenors would like to issue a call for participants for this forthcoming two-day conference on Old Norse Poetry in Performance at the University of Oxford in June 2016. We are delighted to announce that Professor Terry Gunnell will deliver our keynote address.

The conference will bring together literary scholars, actors and dramaturgs to explore the dramatic potential in the Old Norse-Icelandic poetic corpus. The intention is to provide a corpus of experimental stage work upon which further research could draw, as well as to contextualise the critical work currently being done in this field by setting it alongside the practical experimental work of theatrical practitioners. The conference will operate as a focus for dramaturgs and academics to experience one another's approach to a notoriously resistant and fragmentary literature, both in order to aid the construction of a historical understanding of Old Norse poems as performance texts and to establish a practical research platform that is at once experimental and scholarly.

Proposals for both papers and performances are welcome and might cover (but are not limited to) the following areas of enquiry:
 - The historical and literary evidence for performance conventions associated with the poems
 - The intersection between theatre/performance and ritual in relation to the poems
 - The performance of prosimetrical texts
 - Instances of performance depicted in the sagas
 - Performance dynamics encoded in eddic or skaldic poems
 - Acoustic, technical and dramaturgical devices encoded in the poems
 - The practical demands of 'staging' eddic or skaldic recitals
 - The evidence concerning the transmission/transmitters of the poems in the oral tradition
 - The interplay between action and text
 - The qualities which make/made for an effective recitation
 - A suitable vocabulary for the discussion of Old Norse poetry and performance.

In 1920 Dame Bertha Phillpotts published The Elder Edda and Ancient Scandinavian Drama, the first systematic argument that a substantial part of the eddic verse corpus had originally been designed for multi-participant dramatic performance. Although early reviewers were sceptical, interest in her thesis has steadily grown, and the new discipline of performance studies has increasingly been applied also to the skaldic corpus. Nearly a century on, it is appropriate to review recent progress in this debate. The first day of this conference will be primarily concerned with papers discussing eddic texts, while the second day will centre on skaldic poetry. Proposals for performances exploring, or papers discussing both genres of text are equally welcome.

Duration of presentations
Individual papers: 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion
Performances: 10 to 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of discussion

All proposals (abstracts) should fully and clearly describe the topic of the presentation. For individual papers or performances a proposal of c. 300 words should be submitted. Proposals should include the participant’s name, affiliation and contact details.

Proposals should be submitted to by midnight GMT on

1 April 2016. Late proposals will not be accepted.

Programme and registration
The conference programme will be announced, and registration opened, in April 2016. 

Further information can be obtained from the convenors, Annemari Ferreira and Brian McMahon (
CFP Poster
CFP Poster