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Gro Steinsland

Gro Steinsland (born 1945) is a Norwegian scholar of medieval studies and history of religion and since August 2009 has been the Scientific Director of the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Steinsland has most recently been a professor in the Institute for Linguistic and Nordic Studies at the University of Oslo, where she was also a member of the international interdepartmental Centre for Studies in the Viking Age and Nordic Middle Ages[1][2] from its founding in 1993 until its dissolution.[3] She has also taught in the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Tromsø and has held guest faculty positions at Linacre College, Oxford University and at the University of Bonn.[1] In 2007/08 she led the international interdisciplinary research group in "The Power of the Ruler and the Ideology of Rulership in Nordic Culture 800-1200" at the Centre for Advanced Study of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters,[4][5] and since 1 August 2009 has been its Scientific Director.[6]

Steinsland specialises in pre-Christian religion, the associated Old Norse texts and mythology and the conversion of Scandinavia.[1] At both Oslo and Tromsø, she made Norse religion a main subject within the history of religion programme.[2] She is a member of the group for theology and religious studies in the Academy of Science and Letters.[7] As a historian of religion, her publications take Norse paganism seriously and present it in a non-traditional light as having been still strong and vital when it encountered Christianity.[3] In 2005 she published a wideranging introductory book, Norrøn religion (Norse religion), which presents the subject from the perspective of myth and praxis. In her influential 1989 PhD dissertation, Det hellige bryllup og norrøn kongeideologi: en analyse av hierogami-myten i Skírnismál, Ynglingatal, Háleygjatal og Hyndluljód (the sacred marriage and Norse ideology of kingship: an analysis of the myth of the hieros gamos in Skírnismál, Ynglingatal, Háleygjatal and Hyndluljóð), she reinterpreted the sacred marriage between a god and a giantess as a power myth legitimising rulership rather than a fertility myth; she specialises in the interpretation of written sources but has also made extensive use of archaeology and frequently takes an interdisciplinary approach.[3] She has also emphasised the female aspect of pre-Christian religion,[2] particularly in her 1997 book Eros og død i norrøne myter (Eros and death in Norse myths), in which she contrasts the sexualisation of death in, for example, references to drowning as being embraced by the sea goddess Rán with the post-conversion view of female sexuality as shameful.[3]

Steinsland has also readily written newspaper opinion articles,[1] for example in 2000 taking the position that Thor Heyerdahl's Odin expedition to Azerbaijan was a "charade" orchestrated by Snorri Sturluson.[8]

Selected publications

  • Det hellige bryllup og norrøn kongeideologi: en analyse av hierogami-myten i Skírnismál, Ynglingatal, Háleygjatal og Hyndluljód. Oslo: Solum, 1991. ISBN 82-560-0764-8. Doctoral dissertation, University of Oslo, 1989.
  • (with Preben Meulengracht Sørensen) Før kristendommen: digtning og livssyn i vikingetiden Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1990. ISBN 87-00-79194-6
  • (with Preben Meulengracht Sørensen) Menneske og makter i vikingenes verden Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1994. ISBN 82-00-21316-1
  • Eros og død i norrøne myter. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1997. ISBN 82-00-22938-6
  • (with Preben Meulengracht Sørensen) Voluspå, Gjendiktning og kommentar. Oslo: Pax, 1999. ISBN 82-530-2136-4
  • Den hellige kongen; om religion og herskermakt fra vikingtid til middelalder. Oslo: Pax, 2000. ISBN 82-530-2227-1
  • (with Magnus Rindal) Heilage stader i Norge. Oslo: Det Norske samlaget, 2001. ISBN 82-521-5657-6
  • Norrøn religion: Myter, riter, samfunn. Oslo: Pax, 2005. ISBN 82-530-2607-2
  • (Ed.) Words and Objects: Towards a Dialogue Between Archaeology and History of Religion. (Conference proceedings) Instituttet for sammenlignende kulturforskning Serie B-Skrifter 71. Oslo: Norwegian University Press / Oxford/New York: Oxford University, 1984. ISBN 82-00-07751-9
  • (Ed.) Voluspå, og andre norrøne helligtekster. Verdens hellige skrifter. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2003. ISBN 82-525-4113-5
  • (Ed.) Draumkvedet, og tekster fra norrøn middelalder. Verdens hellige skrifter. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. ISBN 82-525-4627-7


  1. ^ a b c d profile at (Norwegian)
  2. ^ a b c Aslaug Veum, "Gro Steinsland: Veit ho nok, eller kva?", Portrait, Apollon, University of Oslo research magazine, 1 April 1998, retrieved 17 January 2011
  3. ^ a b c d Gunnhild Røthe, "Vet dere nok eller hva? Om den moderne volven Gro Steinslands forfatterskap", Minibiografi, Prosa May 2009, retrieved 16 January 2011 (Norwegian)
  4. ^ Olaf Christensen, HF-aktuelt: En fremragende religionshistoriker, Det humanistiske fakultet, University of Oslo, 21 November 2005, retrieved 17 January 2011 (Norwegian)
  5. ^ Research Group 2007/2008 - Rulership, Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo.
  6. ^ Bjarne Røsjø and Else Lie, "Centre for Advanced Study: Cultivating the crème de la crème of basic research", Research Council of Norway, 4 March 2010, retrieved 14 January 2011.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Heyerdahls og Odins 'narrespill': Med Thor Heyerdahls nye Odin-prosjekt er et 800 år gammelt 'narrespill' satt i scene, en gedigen skøyerstrek, regissert av Snorre Sturlason", Meninger - Kronikk, Aftenposten 24 November 2000, retrieved January 14, 2011 (Norwegian).

External links

  • Gro Steinsland at Institute for Linguistic and Nordic Studies, University of Oslo (Norwegian)
  • Gro Steinsland at OCLC Worldcat
  • Gro Steinsland at Worldwide Universities Network: Medieval Studies
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