Norse paganism, mythology, folklore and conversion to Christianity are the subjects of a talk to be presented on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus later this month.
Dr. Eric Bryan, assistant professor of English and technical communication, will present a lecture titled “Obstinate Minds: Icelandic Folklore and the Struggle for a Functional Belief System” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in St. Pat’s Ballroom A of the Havener Center at Missouri S&T. The lecture is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Bryan says his research focuses on some of the big questions historians and anthropologists ask about how religion developed throughout Europe and Scandanavia in the medieval and early modern periods.
“There are sort of two stories to be told about this religious development,” Bryan says. “One is the story told by the relatively small group of leaders in the church and state, and the other is the story told by the much larger population of ‘regular people’ who farm and fish and do manual labor. The question academics often ask is, ‘do the regular people really and truly believe what the leaders of the church and state tell them to, or do they just smile and nod whenever the priest comes around and then go back to whatever they were believing to begin with?’
“Scholars of medieval and early modern times have argued back and forth about these questions, and it’s that discussion to which I hope my research will contribute,” Bryan says. “It’s a great opportunity to explore some juicy topics like Norse pagan religions, mythology and folklore, but it also cuts to an essential question for all humankind at any time and place: is there something called ‘the divine’ or ‘God’ and how do we relate to it? Iceland, as it turns out, is a great place to study these sorts of questions, due in large part to the country’s religious history and the many written sources we have from the medieval and early modern period.”
For more information about Bryan’s lecture, contact Linda Sands, administrative assistant in English and technical communication at 573-341-6680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.