Thursday, June 2, 2011


I’m currently in Fredericton, New Brunswick for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2011. It’s the biggest interdisciplinary arts conference in Canada. I was here with both the Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada and the Canadian Society of Medievalists. I gave a paper for the former and didn’t end up attending any panels for the latter despite knowing three of the professors giving papers. I didn’t know anyone at the Scandinavian Studies group and I admit being super nervous about presenting my paper. I’ve done paper presentations twice at Laurier but those were only small little conferences in front of faculty and students that are my friends. This, while not being much bigger attendance wise, was a substantially bigger deal for me. I talked to a couple people beforehand and they were very supportive and assured me I’d do a fine job and that they were interested in hearing my paper. They were very excited to have a student in attendance while I was worried I would be a bit of an outcast because I had only just completed my undergrad. Pretty much all my worries were for naught. I stumbled over my words in group of sentences that included the words history, historical, historically, and historiography but whatever. In general my paper went well but what I enjoyed most was the question period afterward. People were really interested in hearing about metal and they certainly didn’t brush it off as irrelevant. Questions were engaged and some really poignant questions arose about why such brutal metal arose in one of the most peaceful places on earth. (In a later panel I made a connection between the explosion of interest in Scandinavian crime fiction as a mainstream and acceptable alternative creation of a cultural milieu in which to examine the same tensions explored by some of the most radical black metal groups.) Numerous people afterward told me that I had opened their eyes in terms of the broadness and possibilities in metal and they had been sorry for looking down on metalheads before. Turisas gained numerous fans from my presentation and it was really funny to hear an older lady being so enthusiastic to go home and download To Holmgard and Beyond.
I also posted on Mathias Nygard's facebook wall about my paper and he's interested in reading it *squee!*
            We had a delicious meal at the Beaverbrook Gallery after admiring some great art including a couple of Salvadore Dali’s followed by engaging conversation at a pub.
            I now have Scandinavian contacts (friends?) throughout Canada and Scandinavia, much more confidence to pursue my unorthodox research topic, and a great feeling of validation so I would have to say that Congress2011 was a brilliant success. Hopefully I’ll be able to return for Congress next year that’s taking place at Laurier/UW.
Forgot to say that my paper was titled: "Breathing History, Veiled in Mystery": Turisas' The Varangian Way and Saga Tradition.

The one negative of this week is that our car suffered some sort of damage and my parents had to drop a significant amount of money on an old car that should be replaced in order to safely get home and we may have to pay for another night’s stay before it’s fixed. I also haven’t really seen any of Fredericton other than the University, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and a pub.

Edit (September 15th): Essay can now be found at

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