“The eSaga Project: Translating Old Norse Literature for a Digital-Age Audience”

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 at 7 pm in the Scandinavian Cultural Center. Refreshments will be served.

The Old Icelandic sagas record the heroic deeds, poetic tragedies, and courtroom dramas of medieval Icelanders’ Viking-Age ancestors. They were read aloud on dark winter nights, both to entertain and to edify. Audiences today are far removed from the dried-cod-and-vellum world of the medieval Norse home, which presents a challenge to today’s translators: how do we give today’s audience something of what it meant and what it felt like to listen to the original stories when read out loud around the hearth?

This lecture addresses the storyworld of the Old Icelandic sagas—both what existed on the page and off. In particular, I explore the medieval audience’s “inside knowledge”—the cultural cues, the historical background, and how they felt about the various heroes of the past based on their own identities. This research gave birth to a new translation of Hrafnkels saga as an ebook and interactive map, and I explore the successes and failures of that project in bringing the medieval manuscript to life in the twenty-first century.

Colin Gioia Connors is a PhD candidate in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research straddles landscape archaeology, Old Norse studies, North American Indigenous cultural repatriation, and digital storytelling. He has published articles in the Journal of Folklore and Education and the Journal of Sustainability Education and contributed chapters to Viking Archaeology in Iceland. He is a documentary film maker and translator. Currently he produces the Crossing North podcast at the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.