Graduate seminar on 'Magic and Memory in the Pre-Modern North'

Applications are welcome for the Autumn School 'Magic and Memory in the Pre-Modern North' at the University of Helsinki, 25--29 October 2021. The course is organized with the support of the Thure Gallén Foundation, and hosted by the Centre for Nordic Studies in cooperation with Glossa (the Society for Medieval Studies in Finland). The course is led by Professor Stephen Mitchell (Harvard University) and specialists in relevant fields (e.g., Professor Neil Price in archaeology). Apply by 31 May 2021!

This course focuses on magic in medieval and early modern Scandinavia. What sort of role did it play in those worlds? How, for example, did charm magic, ‘the verbal element of vernacular magic practice’, function in the lives of both élites and non-élites from the medieval period to Reformation-era Scandinavia (c. 1100-1600)? What was remembered about, or invented about, the magical traditions of the earlier pre-Christian world and how were these ideas reflected, and deployed, in literature, law, and life? Our exploration of these materials will build on the advances in recent decades in our understanding of magic, as well as on our ability to envision and re-contextualize the performance practices associated with medieval and early modern magic, applying ‘thick description’ to the historical data, and drawing heavily on the so-called ‘ethnography of speaking’, the history of mentalities, and, especially, memory studies.

The Autumn School welcomes applications from across many fields–history, philology, folkloristics, anthropology, ethnology, religious studies, archaeology, art history and other relevant disciplines. The subject of the course, Magic and Memory in the Pre-Modern North, intentionally looks to remove most linguistic, national, and temporal guard rails, and encourages participants to focus on their own special interests through project presentations and discussions. A reading list for preparation in advance of the seminar will be distributed.

Fifteen students (Ph.D. or Master’s level) will be accepted into the course. Students receive 5 ECTS points for attending the course and completing the course assignments. Part of the course will consist of students’ project presentations, with comments provided by the teachers and other students. Participants are required to submit an essay (5–7 pages) on a topic based in their ongoing research.

Applicants are invited to send a cover letter and one-page project abstract to the coordinator, Anita Geritz (, by 31 May 2021. The organizers can provide a travel grant from €100 to €400; to apply, include in your application the reason for applying for the grant, as well as an estimate of travel expenses.

Course safety & COVID-19: The organizers hope that in October 2021 conditions will be safe to organize this course at the University of Helsinki. However, if the situation does not permit safe international travel and face-to-face teaching the course will be postponed. In this event all applicants will be informed, and accepted applicants can confirm to reserve a place in the postponed course

For more information visit course website: Magic and Memory in the Pre-Modern North (25-29 Oct 2021)