The Ontology of Supernatural Encounters

Tartu, Estonia, December 10-12, 2015 

Troll mot st Olav

The 4th symposium of Old Norse Folklorists Network is dedicated to the question of the ontology of supernatural encounters in Old Norse-Icelandic literature, myth and legend, as well as in later Scandinavian folklore. It will focus on the controversial issue of “truth” or “real experience” behind narrative depictions of such encounters, and seeks answers to questions such as the following: How were encounters with supernatural beings, or visits to supernatural places conceptualized and understood by the individuals or communities who experienced them, and what was their relationship to accepted “norms of truth”? To what extent were supernatural beings perceived as physical beings and how was their physical appearance interpreted? How can we use various kinds of sources to gain knowledge of these matters? What are the long-term continuities in the ways that the supernatural has been understood in the Scandinavian and geographically close (Baltic, Finnic etc) cultural areas? In spirit of the previous events of the ONF series, the conference seeks to stimulate discussion on these issues and to bring philological and folkloristic perspectives on both Old Norse and later sources into closer contact with each other.

The conference will take place in the main building of Tartu University (Ülikooli 18), room 139 and 140.

Keynote lectures:

  • John Lindow, University of Berkeley: “The essential other: Continuity and discontinuity in worldview”
  • Mikael Häll, University of Lund: ”Carnal Spirits of Nature and Demonic Bodies of Vapour. The Ontology and Sexuality of Supernatural Beings in Early Modern Swedish Folklore and Demonology.”

The programme is found here: 
Arngrímur Vídalín "Some Thoughts on the Supernatural"

Welcome to Tartu in December!

Organizers: Daniel Sävborg
Karen Bek-Pedersen
Mart Kuldkepp

Conference secretary: Kristel Pallasma

For printing: Conference flyer