Research Project: The Sea of Orality

Project leader
Tommy Danielsson
Project Members
Project Period
Project Status
The Sea of Orality will be the last volume of a trilogy on the role of orality in the Icelandic sagas. In the earlier volumes, I discussed the problem of regarding the family sagas and the king’s sagas as a kind of written novel with few bonds to the tradition. The matter of consideration in the third part is to see whether it is possible to unveil aspects of the “unconscious” in the preserved texts by studying their “conscious” surface. I will apply methods from cognitive literary theories in order to unravel the discourse worlds of the original oral interaction. Consequently, I will concentrate on the social dynamics of the story world and the dynamics of the discourse situation. Ambiguities, instabilities and tensions that might signal emotive anxieties in the discourse worlds will be of particular importance. The metaphor of the sea conveys the flexibility and elusiveness of orality, and suggests that there were no fixed traditions, only an ebb and flow of open-ended stories. A detailed analysis of the Fóstbrœðra saga will be included as well as research on the group of family sagas in its entirety. It is obvious that we can no longer ignore the tradition, and the significance of my investigation is to show that information on orality can in fact be retrieved from the sagas.
Research Profile
Language, Learning and Culture
Comparative Literature