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Isolated Islands

Edited by Gerhard Jaritz

Publication Year: 2011

Focuses specifically on the concept and role of islands in the medieval world. The main characteristic of an island is, of course, that of being isolated from the rest of the world; in geography by waters, in more abstract and symbolic meanings by other kinds of separating borders. Islands were the place ‘on the other side’, of difference, otherness and remoteness. As one of the articles in this volume puts it, islands are often depicted “as sites for extraordinary events and happenings”.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title page, copyright page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-6

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi-7

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pp. 1-2

An international network of scholars has over the last years been focusing on matters related to the peripheral areas and outer borders of the medieval world. The overarching perspective has been comprehensive in the sense that the idea of periphery, liminality, borders and outskirts has been understood and treated in a wide sense. Thus,...

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Paradise Islands in the East and West--Tradition and Meaning in Some Cartographical Places on the Medieval Rim of the World

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pp. 3-22

Paradise was, in Christian medieval thinking, a special and meaningful place, both in time and in space: It had been there since the very beginning of history when God created it as a home for the first human beings – and would still be there at history’s very end. Revelations 2:7 alludes to its role at the end of all times, promising...

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The Powers and Purposes of an Insular Setting--On Some Motifs in Old-Norse Literature

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pp. 23-35

The narrative representation of islands in Old Norse literature was shaped by various literary and cultural layers and born out of practical and symbolic, but also deeper, cognitive purposes. It has been argued previously that such imagery can highlight traditional Nordic cultural experiences, while at the same time conducting a...

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Monastic “Islands” in Medieval Denmark: Insular Isolation in Ideal and Practice

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pp. 36-44

Every now and then, when I am asked to describe the medieval monastery, there are several ways to do so. One of them is to make use of the topic of these conference proceedings: Islands! Islands isolated in more than one sense. For medieval religiosi – the monks, canons regular, friars and nuns – the monastery (or the abbey, priory or...

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Religious Athletes--On the Perception of the Body in Medieval Asceticism

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pp. 45-56

This article will not deal with sports or athletics in the modern meanings of these terms. Rather, I propose to consider religious men and women of the Middle Ages as using the capacities and strengths of their human bodies to achieve a religious goal, almost like professional athletes and sports people do nowadays. I aim to show...

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Holy Islands and the Otherworld: Places beyond Water

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pp. 57-80

In this article I attempt to demonstrate that there is a connection between holy islands and notions of an Otherworld beyond water. I believe that the essence of holy islands is their location on the other side of water. One has to cross water to get there and in this respect holy islands are parallel to the Otherworld, which often is placed...

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Hvítramannaland and Other Fictional Islands in the Sea

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pp. 81-87

Eiríks saga rauða tells how Karlsefni and his crew, on their way back from Vínland to Greenland, in a place which they called Markland – somewhere on the coast of North America – found five skrælingar, the Old Norse word for the natives the Nordic people met in Greenland and Vínland. Two of them were young boys, whom they...

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The Unknown Island

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pp. 88-96

The Unknown Island is a motif that constantly recurs in tales, written narratives, and maps pertaining to the Atlantic seaboard of Europe. Representations of the Unknown Island are necessarily ironic: How can an artist, in any medium, represent what is by definition beyond comprehension? And yet isn’t this precisely what art sets out to do?...

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Will the Son of Nine Sisters Rule the Sea-Kidney?

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pp. 97-110

The few stanzas of The House Lay which are preserved are not quoted in the saga, but in the thirteenth-century Prose Edda, a book on pagan mythology and vernacular poetry originally authored by Snorri Sturluson, but later reworked in manuscript transmission. The parts of The House Lay which are quoted in the The Prose Edda refer to well-known...

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The Quality of Islands in Middle High German Literature

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pp. 111-119

Medieval literature can open up insights into any constructed values and qualities shared by a society or by specific groups in a society. One must be aware of the fact that all these values have to be seen as representations or reflections of positive or negative connotations that cannot, however, be taken as ‘realities’ of life. This must, in...

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Seasonal Isolation in the Communication in Livonia

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pp. 120-127

Being isolated seems to be in the nature of every island. Isolation creates islands. On the other hand, the title of our workshop, “Isolated Islands,” when not pleonastic, implies that there are islands which are isolated and there are others which are not. In the medieval communication network on the Baltic some islands, rather than...

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Utstein Monastery: An Island on an Island--or not?

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pp. 128-138

In spite of today’s sub-sea tunnels and bridges connecting today’s Klosterøy with the Norwegian mainland, there is no doubt that Utstein Monastery is geographically situated on an island. But what did this kind of location mean for the community who once established themselves in this monastic institution? Did they seek this place as...

List of Contributors

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pp. 139-146


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pp. 140-146

Back cover

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p. 154-154

E-ISBN-13: 9786155053252
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155053245

Page Count: 154
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: first