The University of Winnipeg



New book on Old Norse mythology

Andrew McGillivray, photo supplied

Andrew McGillivray, photo supplied

The University of Winnipeg’s Dr. Andrew McGillivray, Department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications, launched a new book on Old Norse mythology. Influences of Pre-Christian Mythology and Christianity on Old Norse Poetry: A Narrative Study of Vafþrúðnismál was published by Medieval Institute Publications of Western Michigan University. 

In this study, McGillivray explores the cultural environment in which the Eddic poem Vafþrúðnismál was composed and reexamines the relationship between form and content in the poem and the respective influences of pre-Christian beliefs and Christian religion on the text.

The poem has a dual aspect, acting as a poetic framework and functioning as a sacred story. It serves both as a representation of early pagan beliefs or myths and also as a myth itself, relating the journey of the Norse god Óðinn to the hall of the ancient and wise giant Vafþrúðnir, where Óðinn craftily engages his adversary in a life-or-death contest in knowledge. The dialogue continues to captivate those enthusiastic about myth and history in the present, even as it did the medieval audiences who heard it.

Influences of Pre-christian Mythology and Christianity on Old Norse Poetry, book cover

Influences of Pre-christian Mythology and Christianity on Old Norse Poetry, book cover

McGillivray will be presenting a lecture on this subject matter entitled Paganism, Medieval Iceland, and the Myth of Vafthrudnir on Wednesday, February, 20, 2019 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm. It’s part of the SkyWalk Lecture Series at the Carol Shields Auditorium in the Millennium Library. This lecture is free and open to the public.

He is also offering a course through PACE’s 55plus series titled Literature and Culture of Medieval Iceland, that deals with material related to the book and Old Norse Mythology.  

McGillivray is an assistant professor at UWinnipeg. He has studied in Iceland, where he completed his PhD, and Denmark, where he was an undergraduate exchange student. Among his research interests are Icelandic language and literature, Nordic culture, and the translation of language and culture. He lives in Osborne Village with his wife Angela, a UWinnipeg alumna, and their son Oliver.

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