Articles and Artifacts: June 2016

Articles and Artifacts (AA) is a new column here at Mimisbrunnr.info dedicated to covering academic developments in ancient Germanic studies—recent publications, archaeological finds, new translations, and the like. AA is authored by Joseph S. Hopkins.

In AA's first installment:
* Design Selected for Oslo Viking Ship Museum Expansion

* Danish Police and Archaeologists Examine Possible Viking Age Arson

* A Newly Found Grave Offers Clues to Heathen Female Social Status

* Team Rainbow Power Finds Huge Viking Age Gold Hoard in Denmark

* Sverris Saga Detail Confirmed by Archaeologists

* Amateur Archaeologist to Receive Anglo-Saxon Coin Find Share

* Winter 2015-2016 Issue of RMN Newsletter Now Available

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Popular Resonances: June 2016

Ragnarök (motif from the Heysham hogback) by W.G. Collingwood, 1908. Wikimedia Commons.   

Ragnarök (motif from the Heysham hogback) by W.G. Collingwood, 1908. Wikimedia Commons  

This marks the second installment of JH Roberts's regular column Popular Resonances. Popular Resonances examines references to ancient Germanic culture and Germanic mythology in modern popular culture as it happens. For more information on the feature, please see Roberts's introductory post here.

Television:
This month featured many news stories on the television show based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (read our review here). In early June, Variety reported Gillian Anderson joining the cast as Media, and Nerdist reported on the two newest additions to the cast: Orlando Jones and Demore Barnes. Of particular interest to our site, these actors join Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday (Odin), Jonathan Tucker as Low Key Lyesmith (Loki), as well as many others. First photos on Nerdist and Spinoff show Shadow and Mad Sweeney boxing, while Mr. Wednesday looks on, and IMDB features a photo of Media as Lucille Ball. American Gods will premiere on Starz in January 2017.

Movies:
Buzzfeed features a spotlight on Taika Waititi, the director of upcoming Marvel Studios’  Thor: Ragnarok. He makes a few comments on the film, including why he picked it as his Hollywood directorial debut: “I’ve turned down pretty much every script I’ve ever been sent. I didn’t turn down Thor because there wasn’t a script,” he said. “At the moment, I feel like there aren’t many Hollywood films where I would make a difference.” He also suggests that Thor will be light-hearted: “Right now, in the world, people need to laugh, because there’s so much sadness going on and a lot of pain out there,” he said. “To watch people spending millions of dollars recreating that sadness and pain and then winning Oscars by doing it? That, to me seems… possibly even arrogant. You pay good money to go to the cinema. I think you should enjoy it. I do believe that right now, cinema needs to make people happy.” The New Zealand Herald reports that Waititi has been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who host the OscarsThor: Ragnarok is set to be released November 3, 2017.

Video Games:
Sony’s gameplay of God of War 4 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) confirmed that the game will include Norse mythological characters. Full interview and gameplay footage available on The Know’s Youtube Channel. Games Radar responds to rumors about the game; for example, whether Kratos' son is Thor or Tyr, and if Kratos is Odin. Expected release date is Dec. 29, 2017.  

Comics:
On June 15, Marvel debuted their new series Vote Loki. Though it's early to tell, the series seems to continue the post-Hiddleston Loki, who is much more nuanced than his previous “God of Evil” incarnation. As the title suggests, Loki is running for office, hoping to be President of the United States: Marvel.com reports that "it's the same Loki readers have come to know and love over the past few years, just with...new ambitions. The real reason he's running is a mystery, but I promise it'll be a satisfying one--to new readers, yes, but especially to existing Loki fans." According to the first issue, his presidential campaign has an advantage, since voters can depend on him to lie to them, whereas other politicians pretend to tell the truth. Thor, goddess of thunder, makes an appearance, as well.

Books:
Nerdist and the New York Times report that Neil Gaiman’s next book will be titled Norse Mythology. From Nerdist: “Norse Mythology will focus on the nine Norse worlds—AsgardVanaheimAlfheimMidgardJotunheimSvartalheim [sic], NidavellirNilfheim, and Muspelheim—worlds that inhabit a wide range of creatures, from humans to dark elves to ice giants to gods to the dead, and everything in between.” I presume they meant Helheimr instead of Niðavellir or Svartálfaheimr, since those are two names for the same place. By this description, we can hope to see less of the big three (Thor, Odin, and Loki), and more of the lesser known deities and supernatural creatures. Norse Mythology will be released by W.W. Norton, scheduled for February 2017.

Professional Wrestling:
Professional wrestler Odinson won the SFCW tag team titles June 4. Odinson is a mixture of traditional, Marvel, and Mad Max: Fury Road Norse elements.

Baseball:
In a GQ interviewNoah Syndergaard of the New York Mets gives tips on what it takes to get hair like Marvel's Thor: “A little TLC. Nothing too crazy. Use some Axe hair products. Shampoo every three or four days or so. Then you're golden.” If only there was a brand called “Hammer” one could use to get Thor hair.

Other:
Nerdist and BoingBoing reported on a newly designed toolbox shaped like Marvel’s version of  Mjölnir.  This toolbox, designed by Dave’s Geeky Ideas, is not currently available for sale, but perhaps someone will pick up production.

Throwback Thursday: American Gods, a Novel by Neil Gaiman

Alvíss and Þrúðr by Lorenz Frølich, 1895. Wikimedia Commons.

American Gods is a novel by author Neil Gaiman. As the title suggests, the characters are mostly gods, but from many different pantheons (it is pan-pantheistic, if you will). The characters include several Germanic deities and figures, appearing in their American manifestations: Thor, Loki, Odin, Eostre, Alviss, the Norns, Yggdrasil, and Ratatoskr.

These gods are American because they live in the minds of people who traveled to America; from their minds, the gods took root and grew into American manifestations; as such, we see both the American and Icelandic manifestations of Odin in the novel.

Gaiman's conception of national deities resembles recent work by scholars such as Eric O. Scott, in that there is not a static manifestation of “Odin,” but rather different versions in Iceland and Norway.[i] Additionally, Gaiman’s conception of these gods as “American” allows him to use them in ways that might be offensive if the gods were their traditional manifestations. From the postcolonial perspective, however, this conception of America as a static entity, even in eras well before current borders were established, is problematic. Canada must be included as “America,” as Odin arrived in Canada, and then became American. It is unclear, however, if Mexico or any countries further south are American.

As a popular manifestation of Old Norse myth, Gaiman provides an interesting take on these characters, as well as the evolution of religious traditions through the ages. His reflections on the waning influence of pagan deities in the modern age are apt, and some specific details he includes (such as Loki's scarred lips), show he is very familiar with the source material. 

[i] Scott, Eric O. “Pagan Sympathy as Political Resistance in Two Sagas of Icelanders.” Presented at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2016

New Feature: Popular Resonances

Popular Resonances is a new feature here at Mimisbrunnr.info overseen by myself, JH Roberts. Popular Resonances explores manifestations of ancient Germanic myth and history in popular culture.

I call these instances "resonances" following Wai Chee Dimock's definition of literary resonances: "frequencies received and amplified across time, moving farther and farther from their points of origin, causing unexpected vibrations in unexpected places" (1061).

The "unexpected places" include books, comic books, movies, video games, music, television, and sometimes even professional wrestling – I hope to find as many manifestations of Germanic myth as possible. This feature will include monthly reports and occasional Throwback Thursday features.

Please send any resonances you come across to jhrobert [AT] uga [DOT] edu.

NOTE: I won't talk much about Marvel's Thor comic series, as a simple report of "there was another issue of Thor this month" would not be very interesting.

References
* Dimock, Wai Chee. "A Theory of Resonance." PMLA 112.5 (1997): 1060-071. Web.

Popular Resonances: May 2016

Johannes Gehrts's Hel, 1889. Wikimedia Commons

This marks the first installment of JH Roberts's regular column Popular Resonances. Popular Resonances examines references to ancient Germanic culture and Germanic mythology in modern popular culture as it happens. For more information on the feature, please see Roberts's introductory post here.

Comics:
Loki shows up in Ms. Marvel #6, released April 27, 2016. Bruno and Mike “summon” him with a magic circle full of smart phones and coffee. “Hipster Viking” Loki first appeared in Ms. Marvel #12.

The Wicked and the Divine resumed in April. The comic series features an incarnation of Woden.

Movies:
Chris Hemsworth posted a video discussing why Thor and Hulk did not appear in Captain America: Civil War: “The kids just have a scrap and we sit on the sidelines.” 

Marvel Studies announced new cast members for Thor: Ragnarok: Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, and Karl Urban. Cate Blanchett will play Hela, a character adapted from Hel, goddess of Hel, a location of the same name. Tessa Thompson will play Valkyrie, a character referencing the Valkyries. The third installment in the Thor film series begins shooting in June 2016. Moviepilot reports that Ragnarok may include elements from the Planet Hulk storylines.

Video Games:
There are rumors that God of War 4 from will include Odin and Thor and that Kratos, the main character, will visit Alfheim. Álfheimr is one of the Nine Realms in Norse mythology.  

Gameinformer reports a new game under development, Logic ArtistsExpeditions: Viking, which will stay authentic to Viking history, while still "keeps things rooted with authenticity, while still giving characters a chance to seem larger than life." It will be released on PC later this fall.

Banner Saga 2 will be released for PS4 and XBox1 on July 26. It is currently available for Mac and PC on Steam. The Banner Saga trilogy is "an epic Viking saga."

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, released in the US June 7, is now available for preorder. Leifthrasir is a HD remake of the 2007 Odin Sphere.

Books:
The second installment of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series The Hammer of Thor is now available. Excerpt here.

Theater:
Beowulf/Grendel, a dramatization of the Anglo-Saxon poem, was performed in Philadelphia this month by the Renegade Theater company.

Music:
Ashville, Ohio hosted a Viking Festival featuring Viking music.

April and May Roundup: Point Rosee, the Woman in Blue, Finds Aplenty, and Much More

A semester wrapped and a move took place and now we've got a nice big update for everyone. Behold!:

* Point Rosee: Satellite Images Reveal Potential Second Norse Settlement in North America

* Viking Age Sword Sparks Conflict in Russia, Ukraine, and Estonia

* Viking Age Thing Found in Bute, Scotland

* Unusual Viking Age Object Anonymously Donated to National Museum of Ireland

* More Information about Short-Lived Viking Age "Woman in Blue" Revealed from Teeth Analysis

* Discovery of around 150 Anglo-Saxon Graves in Bulford

* New Reading of Rök Runestone

* Discoverer of Galloway Hoard Claims Mistreatment

* Huge Viking Age-Inspired Ship Arrives in Iceland from Norway

* Icelandic Elf School in the News Again

* The Wild Hunt Food Cart Begins Operation in Portland, Oregon

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