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Isolated Islands in Medieval Nature, Culture and Mind


Edited by Gerhard Jaritz, professor of Medieval Studies at Central European University and senior research fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Torstein Jørgensen, professor at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bergen

Focuses specifically on the concept and role of islands in the medieval world. The main characteristic of an island is, of course, that of being isolated from the rest of the world; in geography by waters, in more abstract and symbolic meanings by other kinds of separating borders. Islands were the place ‘on the other side’, of difference, otherness and remoteness. As one of the articles in this volume puts it, islands are often depicted “as sites for extraordinary events and happenings”.

The contributions cluster around the concept of islands under the following perspectives: • search for undiscovered and paradise islands in literature and cartographyidea of fictional islands in Old Norse texts quality of islands in literary textsmonasteries as islands and monasteries on islandshuman body as an island of religious achievementsseasonal islandisation of certain lands.


List of Illustrations Preface Felicitas Schmeider, Paradise Islands in the East and West – Tradition and Meaning in Some Cartographical Places on the Medieval Rim of the World Kristel Zilmer, The Powers and Purposes of an Insular Setting – on Some Motifs in Old-Norse Literature Johnny Grandjean Gøgsig Jacobsen Monastic “Islands” in Medieval Denmark: Insular Isolation in Ideal and Practice Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen, Religious Athletes – on the Perception of the Body in Medieval Asceticism Eldar Heide, Holy Islands and the Otherworld: Places beyond Water Else Mundal, Hvítramannaland and Other Fictional Islands in the Sea Margaret Elphinstone, The Unknown Island Bernt Øyvind Thorvaldsen, Will the Son of Nine Sisters Rule the Sea-Kidney? Gerhard Jaritz, The Quality of Islands in Middle High German Literature Juhan Kreem, Seasonal Isolation in the Communication in Livonia Torstein Jørgensen, Utstein Monastery: An Island on an Island – or not? List of Contributors Index


CEU Medievalia Series 14

152 pages
ISBN 978-615-5053-24-5 paperback $30.00 / €27.95 / £24.99