Speech on How the English Appreciate Iceland Skip to content

Speech on How the English Appreciate Iceland

Professor Andrew Wawn of the University of Leeds will give a public talk at the National Library of Iceland on Wednesday, March 10, entitled “The English grab with both hands at anything coming from Iceland.”

With Anglo-Icelandic relations currently undergoing a period of stress and strain, the lecture will explore the state of Anglo-Icelandic relations a hundred years ago, says a press release from the English Speaking Union of Iceland, which organizes the event.

It will focus on the life and work in England of Eiríkur Magnússon, an Icelander who taught Old and Modern Icelandic language and literature at Cambridge University for almost 40 years from 1871.

What did he teach? To whom did he teach it? Why did his students want to learn Icelandic? Why did he want to teach Icelandic in England—what was the hidden agenda of this tireless cultural útrásavíkingur (“outvasion Viking”)? And does his story have any lessons for us today?

Andrew Wawn is Professor Emeritus of Anglo-Icelandic Studies at the University of Leeds. His publications include The Icelandic Journal of Henry Holland 1810 (London, 1989), ‘The Anglo Man’: Þorleifur Repp, Britain and Enlightenment Philology (Reykjavík, 1991) and The Vikings and the Victorians: the Invention of the Old North in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge, 2000).

A regular visitor to Iceland for over 30 years, he is currently working in the Arnaeus Magnus Institute and National Library on two projects: a history of the teaching of Icelandic language and literature in Britain, and a study of a little-known saga, Úlfs saga Uggasonar.

The talk is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served before and after.

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