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AM 862 4to, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling

Part project 1: Protophilological Discursive Networks and the Beginnings of Textual Criticism in Old Norse Studies

Lucia Santercole

The history of Old Norse studies takes its departure point in the late premodern period. Antiquarian manuscript collectors collected Icelandic manuscripts on behalf of the Swedish and the Danish crown and transported them to the Danish and Swedish capital respectively. The access to these manuscripts in manuscript collections in Copenhagen and Stockholm was a precondition for the production of the first editions of Old Norse texts in the 16th and 17th centuries, many of which were based on a single text. However, also more complex editions accompanied by text-critical considerations were produced. These early editions and the notes of the Dano-Icelandic manuscript collectors as discernible in manuscripts and paper slips that accompany the manuscripts in Árni Magnússon’s collection exhibit elements of textual criticism that establish a clear notion of good and bad manuscripts in a text tradition and of good and bad texts in a literary tradition. The taxonomy of good and bad texts correlated with the assumed age of a text, with ‘good’ texts being regarded as dating from the medieval period, and even more concretely to the few known learned scribes of the 12th and 13th centuries. Within this conceptual framework of the protophilologists, a ‘good’ text could be deemed to be medieval, even though it was only transmitted in late premodern manuscripts without material traces and mentions in earlier periods.

The part project will analyse introductions to early editions, communication within and beyond the Nordic context and handwritten notes archived in the Arnamagnæan manuscript collections in Copenhagen and Reykjavík in order to study the discursive development of text-critical vocabulary and notions, criteria and individual evaluations of texts in the late premodern period that up to the present day inform the terminology used in the discipline and furthermore strongly influence preconceptions of the textual tradition in Old Norse studies. The aim of this PhD project is to unveil the interplay of Nordic and continental European discursive networks in the formation of Old Norse textual criticism.

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