CfP: Northern Myths, Modern Identities’

University of GroningenConference ‘Northern Myths, Modern Identities’: The Nationalization of Mythologies in Northern Europe’

27-29 November 2014

Deadline for application: 10 July 2014.

According to Roland Barthes, mythology is primarily a mode of signification or a system of communication, rather than an idea or a concept in itself. It is a way of speaking about ourselves and our collective identities. From the early 1800s onwards the cultural construction of ethnic, regional, national and supra-national identities became increasingly characterized by an infatuation with the primordial. The metaphysical nature of national character transcended temporal and spatial dimensions, and was therefore considered by many to have found its most striking expression in indigenous mythological narratives.

This conference – organized by the Department of Modern History – focuses on this modern reappraisal of mythological world views and their timeless qualities in the context of modern national thought. Departing from the overall concept of mythography – encompassing all forms of myth interpretation ranging from philological and academic endeavours to artistic refashionings and political appropriations – the conference intends to scrutinize the nationalization and ideological revaluation of myth from a North European, transnational and comparative perspective. How are mythological metaphors applied as instruments of contestation between conflicting or overlapping models of identity? How do the national appropriation of – original or invented – ‘ancient’ mythologies interact with the more universal dimensions of mythological narrative? And do these new interpretations contribute to a sense of ‘northernness’? The conference aims at bringing together senior as well as early career scholars – including Ph.D. and Master students – working on the reception of the Old Norse, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Finno-Ugric, or any other mythological system in the context of modern North European culture.

On Saturday the 29th of November, there will be an optional excursion to the nearby city of Leeuwarden (Friesland), where we will visit the Fries Museum and the annual cultural festival Explore the North.



  • Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms (SPIN)
  • De Fryske Akademy
  • Het Fries Museum
  • The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG)

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