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grabenJust a quick note to record how academic Twitter did something good for me this afternoon: I discovered that the third international conference of the Sällskap för östnordisk filologi is taking place in Copenhagen at the moment.

On the one hand, I’m kicking myself for not having discovered and joined this association before … it seems so obviously relevant to the research interest in Scandinavia that I have developed that I wonder how I missed it. It was of some consolation that I could not have made a quick visit to Copenhagen even if I had known about the event because I have to be in Germany to give a talk on medieval rhyming chronicles – including, fittingly, the Erikskrönika and the Danish Rimkrønike.

I was, however, able to browse through the abstracts (here’s a direct link to the PDF). Reading them, I felt suddenly at home intellectually. This wasn’t just because of the details – the approaches taken or the literary and linguistic questions asked – but also because of the overall philological discourse in which they participated. It’s what studying early texts has always meant for me, and I realized how important it is to make room for that way of thinking. Being attentive to detail, being sensitive to the language of the texts, acknowledging their value as a cultural heritage – all that is central to how I see myself as a scholar of literature and it was wonderful to be reminded of that indirectly while reading the abstracts.

This standpoint might sound rather too traditional for some tastes, so it is worth reflecting on the levelling effect it has. If one’s primary goal is to understand – motivated by a ‘love of words’, even – it becomes very problematic to treat particular kinds of text, or literature from particular parts of Europe, as more valuable, more worthy of study than others. And with that, I’m back full circle to the belief that underpinned the Marie Curie project.