Department of Scandinavian Languages

The Norse perception of the world

The Norse perception of the world: A mapping and analysis of foreign place names in medieval Swedish and Danish texts

National Library of Sweden, MS M 306

(Fornnordisk omvärldsuppfattning: En kartering och analys av utländska ortnamn i svenska och danska texter från medeltiden)

East Norse (Old Swedish and Old Danish) literature is a mine of information on how foreign lands were visualised in the Middle Ages: What places were written about and where? Are some places more popular in certain text types or at certain times? How do place names link different texts? Is there a shared concept of spatiality? How is space gendered?

Geohumanities, the spatialisation of literary studies, and cognitive mapping are growing fields within digital humanities, but the study of spatial thinking and knowledge in medieval Scandinavia and its development as an area of enquiry are hampered by a dearth of information on place names in literary texts. Any research aiming to uncover what pre-modern Scandinavians understood about places abroad requires as a minimum an index of foreign place names in East Norse literature. Yet to-date no such index exists.

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