- Report of the President of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study
Over the past year, the Scandinavian countries have emerged as a touchstone in political debates, highlighting the fact that the need for education about the Nordic region has never been more important. Many of our members have been asked to comment on Scandinavian topics in the media, and they have acted as important sources of competent, informed analysis tempered by nuanced and sophisticated understanding of Nordic history, culture, and politics. Through this public work, our members have brought attention to our field and have underscored the importance of our organization both nationally and internationally.
Our visibility as a Society goes hand in hand with the importance of our research and teaching. The Society's journal, Scandinavian Studies, under the leadership of editor Susan Brantly, continues to be a highly visible forum for cutting-edge research on issues related to the study of Scandinavia and the Nordic region. There is no better indicator of this importance—and the relevance of our work—than the Society's annual meeting.
The 2017 meeting, held under the thematic banner of "Nordic Connections Old and New," took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, home to one of the nation's oldest programs in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Minnesota, and a city historically at the center of Scandinavian emigration. Close collaboration between St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota, with financial support from Norden: The Nordic Council of Ministers and the American [End Page 153] Scandinavian Foundation, ensured the success of the conference. The planning committee, led by William Banks, included members from across the region, including Shelly Nordtorp-Madson, Dan Karvonen, Jim Parente, Frankie Shackelford, Ben Teitelbaum, Glenn Kranking, Jeremy DeAngelo, and outgoing Society president Margaret Hayford O'Leary, all of whom I would like to thank on behalf of the Society for their tireless work. Their efforts made the conference a memorable one.
The conference opened with an engaging keynote address by Anatoly Liberman (University of Minnesota) entitled "Some (In)Soluble Questions of Saga Origins." It was followed by 2 full days of talks and workshops spanning a wide range of topics. As has been the practice in past years, many of the talks were scheduled into streams and interlocking panels, filling ten concurrent panels over seven sessions. In all, the Society welcomed 201 presenters and an additional fifty-five participants representing eleven countries, including participants from all the Nordic countries, as well as the Russian Federation, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Of particular importance to the future of the field was the participation of sixty-one graduate students, whose contributions indicate a healthy interest in Scandinavian Studies across many disciplines.
Graduate students are an important and vibrant component of our membership, and each year we celebrate their accomplishments through awards and fellowships. The Aurora Borealis Prize for the best graduate student papers presented at the 2016 conference was awarded at the 2017 conference to Amber Rose (Language and Literature) for her paper, "The Rest of the Wolf: Masculinity and Magic in Völsunga saga," and to Samantha Ruth Brown (History and Social Sciences) for her paper, "The Danish Meatball War: Pork Politics as a Means to Exclude." The Einar and Eva Lund Haugen Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Charlotte A. Abney Salomon of Yale University, while the Birgit Baldwin Fellowship selection committee decided not to make an award for the current year. Unforeseen events led to delays in the deliberations of several of these committees, and fellowship and award winners were announced out of cycle. A clarification of executive council duties and award selection processes will ensure that all future awards will be made by February 15, allowing recipients ample time to schedule their attendance at the following conference, where the formal announcements will be made during the closing banquet, a past practice that will now be policy. [End Page 154]
At the end of the annual meeting, the Society welcomed two new elected members to the Executive Council, Gantt Gurley (Literature), and Benjamin Teitelbaum (History and Social Sciences) to terms of 4 years. At the same time, we bid farewell to our two...