Reflections of Change: The Natural World in Literary and Historical Sources from Iceland ca. AD 800 to 1800 

The ICECHANGE project will undertake a systematic analysis of descriptions of the natural world drawn from the literature and history of Iceland for a millennial-scale perspective, the period AD 800-1800. Iceland is well known for its rich literary and historical tradition that includes a wealth of written records encompassing many different genres, from the famous “Sagas of Icelanders” to numerous other works, less well known internationally. The Icelandic penchant for meticulous environmental and social observation make these sources a treasury of information concerning perceptions and knowledge of changing environments over the course of many human generations. The documents include accounts of volcanic eruptions, encroachments of glaciers, flash floods, extreme winters, severe storms, and the harmful sea ice that drifted to the coasts, thus revealing an environment subject to rapid changes with potentially extreme consequences, capable of causing the human population considerable hardship. The project will undertake a systematic analysis of weather, climate and other environmental information in the rich corpora of Icelandic literature, encompassing historiographic, literary, and normative documents from the early medieval period to ca. 1800. Here the term “normative” is used to refer to non-narrative documents such as written deeds, commercial agreements, and livestock inventories.

The ICECHANGE project will run from 2017-2020 and is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. It is led by Dr Astrid Ogilvie of the Stefansson Arctic Institute (SAI) and co-led by Professor Steven Hartman, Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden. Riksbankens Jubileumsfond published the final ICECHANGE report on their website.

Contact: Astrid Ogilvie,

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