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Symposium of the Old Norse Folklorists Network: The Ontology of Supernatural Encounters
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12/10/2015 to 12/12/2015
When: 12/11/2015
Where: Tartu, University of Tartu 
Contact: Daniel Sävborg

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The 4th Symposium of the Old Norse Folklorists Network - The Ontology of Supernatural Encounters in Old Norse Literature and Scandinavian Folklore - will take place in Tartu, Estonia, from December 11 to 12, 2015.

The symposium is dedicated to the question of the ontology of supernatural encounters in Old Norse-Icelandic literature, myth and legend, as well as in later Scandinavian folklore. It focuses on the controversial issue of "truth” or "real experience” behind narrative depictions of such encounters, and seeks answers to questions such as the following: How were encounters with supernatural beings, or visits to supernatural places conceptualized and understood by the individuals or communities who experienced them, and what was their relationship to accepted "norms of truth”? To what extent were supernatural beings perceived as physical beings and how was their physical appearance interpreted? How can we use various kinds of sources to gain knowledge of these matters? What are the long-term continuities in the ways that the supernatural has been understood in the Scandinavian and geographically close (Baltic, Finnic, etc.) cultural areas? In spirit of the previous events of the ONF series, the conference seeks to stimulate discussion on these issues and to bring philological and folkloristic perspectives on both Old Norse and later sources into closer contact with each other.

The conference will take place in the main building of Tartu University (Ülikooli 18), room 139 and 140.

Keynote lectures:

  • John Lindow, University of Berkeley: "The Essential Other: Continuity and Discontinuity in Worldview.”
  • Mikael Häll, University of Lund: ”Carnal Spirits of Nature and Demonic Bodies of Vapour. The Ontology and Sexuality of Supernatural Beings in Early Modern Swedish Folklore and Demonology.”

The programme can be found here: 

Please register for the conference by contacting the conference secretary Kristel Pallasma ( For more information, visit the conference website at


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