Wednesday 16. September 2009

Lunch Lecture: Icelanders in the Viking Age

The Lives and Times of the People of the Sagas

William R. Short was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. Dr. Short spent nearly thirty years working in industry, performing research related to audio, acoustics, and human hearing. During that time, Dr. Short became aware of the medieval Icelandic sagas and was completely captivated by the stories about Icelanders in the Viking age. More recently, Dr. Short has been involved with the Higgins Armory Museum, where he has been conducting research related to Viking-age weapons and their use. That work was published this year in the book Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques.

While conducting that research, which used numerous examples from the Íslendingasögur, Dr. Short realized that many modern readers were missing out on the entertaining stories in the sagas. From his lectures and demonstrations at universities and museums, it was clear that people are interested in the stories and fascinated by the people of the sagas, but modern readers are unable to sit down and read the sagas for enjoyment because they don't know enough about the society and culture of the people of the sagas: the Icelanders in the early medieval period. Dr. Short has written a new book to help modern readers learn about these people, their lives, their culture, and their society. The book, Icelanders in the Viking Age: The Lives and Times of the People of the Sagas will be published in 2010 by McFarland & Company in the United States.