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PhD position in the Paratextual Analysis of Manuscripts of Skaldic Poetry

Arni Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies and the University of Iceland are inviting applications for a funded three-year PhD scholarship starting on 1 January 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The Ph.D. will be based in Iceland and research a project on the paratexts of Skaldic Poetry, as part of the Rannís-funded project "The Reception of Skaldic Poetry: Variation in Metre and Diction in Icelandic Manuscripts". The main supervisor is Guðrún Nordal with a committee including other investigators on the project (Tarrin Wills, Copenhagen, Kate Heslop, Berkeley and/or Haukur Þorgeirsson, Iceland and Haraldur Bernharðsson). The project has a close relationship with other major international projects including the Skaldic Project and Lexicon Poeticum.

The project will investigate the medieval manuscripts that transmit skaldic poetry for signs of life: signs, that is, that the people who wrote the poems down and copied and re-copied them for hundreds of years after their original moment of composition, thought of them as parts of a living poetic practice. Skaldic poetry is written without significant visual indicators in the earliest manuscripts, despite being in most cases interspersed in prose (prosimetrum). By the early modern period it is normally written in visual lines corresponding to its metre. The way in which scribes represent the poetry visually may give an indication of their attitude to it: its language and status in particular. Punctuation may be used to represent either syntax or metrics or both (or not at all): this may also help to understand the way in which the poetry is received as a linguistic unit or as an adornment to the prose. The Ph.D. project is defined broadly to investigate the way in which skaldic poetry is represented visually in manuscripts (punctuation, lineation, marginal marks, etc.) in order to understand how scribes and readers may have changed the ways in which they read and understood the poetry over time. This investigation may form part of a larger PhD project on skaldic poetry and/or manuscript studies. The topic may be approached from a number of directions, including but by no means limited to a new philological approach that understands the text's material embodiment as an integral part of the literary work, and reads its physical form for traces of re-readings and re-writings; a literary-historical approach, concerned with changes in poetic practice across time, in different genres or transmission contexts; and/or a more strictly literary orientation, interested in skaldic form (metre, rhythm, interplay between oral performance and writing).performance and writing). Funding is for 3 years (36 months), but note that the applicant will need to be enrolled as part of this process in a 4-year Ph.D. programme in Icelandic.

The appointment to the position will therefore be dependent on admission to the University of Iceland's Ph.D. program: see here for entry requirements, which include a master's degree in the field and a background in Old Norse studies.The successful candidate will therefore have to apply to the Ph.D. program at the University of Iceland which will require further documentation, including a study and research plan (see the above link for more details).

The topic is particularly suited to graduates with an interest in manuscript studies, Old Norse and/or skaldic poetry. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the supervisory team in order to help fit the requirements into existing research plans. The application should consist of:

1. Cover/motivation letter
2. A maximum 1-page statement explaining your academic background and what (in terms of, e.g., course work, language skills, manuscript training, experience with Old Norse poetry, etc.) prepares you for this kind of research
3. CV
4. Scans of relevant academic transcripts and diplomas

Deadline: 23.59 (GMT) 15 November 2023

Applications should be sent with all attachments, labeled APPLICATION to

For further information please turn to Guðrún Nordal e-mail: