Scandinavia HouseScandinavia House

Lectures - Scandinavia HouseLectures & Literary Programs @ Scandinavia House

map & directions
Facebook, become a fan
Stay Connected
Facebook, become a fan Twitter, follow us YouTube, subscribe to our channel

Lectures & Literary Lectures & Literary Programs

For reservations, call 212.847.9740 or email

Upcoming Lectures & Literary Programs

Beneath the Ice: Contemporary Icelandic Poetry

Thursday, January 8, 6:30 pm
Free | #IcelandArt

Despite its remote location and small population, Iceland has an extremely vibrant contemporary poetry scene. Through conversation and performance, editor Helen Mitsios and translator Sola Bjarnadóttir-O’Connell will introduce four of the country’s most celebrated contemporary writers: poets Einar Már Guðmundsson, Didda Jónsdóttir, Gerður Kristný, and Bragi Ólafsson.

About the participants
Beneath the Ice: Contemporary Icelandic Poetry

Sola Bjarnadóttir-O’Connell is a translator and the recipient of The American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Leif and Inger Sjöberg Translation Award (2013) for her translation of selected poems by Icelandic poet Gyrðir Elíasson. A native Icelander who has lived in New York for the past 30 years, Bjarnadóttir-O’Connell is pursuing a lifelong interest in bringing Icelandic poetry and literature to an English speaking audience. She is the translator of the forthcoming collection of contemporary Icelandic poetry Beneath the Ice: Contemporary Icelandic Poetry (Talisman House, Publishers, 2014).

Einar Már Guðmundsson (b. 1954, Reykjavík) is an award winning and widely translated Icelandic author of novels, short stories, and poetry. He received his B.A. in Comparative Literature and History from the University of Iceland in 1979, after which he moved to Copenhagen for graduate work in Comparative Literature at the University of Copenhagen. A leading voice of neorealism, his poetic diction is a bold attempt to make slang and foreign loan words legal tender in poetry, and to draw images from everyday life.

Guðmundsson’s first collection of poetry Is Anyone Here Wearing the Korona Line?/Er nokkur í kórónfötum hér inni? was published in 1980 (Gallerí Suðurgata 7). In 1985 he received first prize in a literary competition held by Almenna Bókafélagið, Book Publishers and Book Club, for the novel The Knights of the Spiral Staircase/Riddarar hringstigans (Almenna bókafélagið, 1982). The highly acclaimed novel Angels of the Universe/Englar alheimsins (Mare’s Nest, 1995) received the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize in 1995. Director Friðrik Þór Friðriksson’s film based on the book premiered in Reykjavík in 2000. In 2012 Guðmundsson was awarded the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize.

Didda Jónsdóttir (b. 1964, Selfoss) published her first book, the poetry collection A Gathering of Sins and Loose Screws/Lastafans og lausar skrúfur, in 1995 (Forlagið). She has since published two novels – Erta (Forlagið, 1997) and The Gold in the Head/Gullið í höfðinu (Forlagið, 1999). Jónsdóttir also starred in Stormy Weather by French/Icelandic director Sólveig Anspach, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003, and received the Icelandic Edda Film Award for Best Actress for her role in the film. Jónsdóttir worked with Anspach again, starring in the director’s 2008 film Back Soon/Skrapp út, which screened at Scandinavia House in 2009.

Gerður Kristný (b. 1970, Reykjavík) has published poetry, short stories, novels, and books for children. She graduated with a degree in French and Comparative Literature from the University of Iceland in 1992. After a course in Media Studies at the University of Iceland from 1992-93, she trained at Denmark’s Radio TV. Kristný was editor of the magazine Mannlif from 1998-2004 and now is a full-time writer.

Among her numerous awards are the Children's Choice Book Prize in 2003 for her book Smart Marta/Marta Smarta (Mál og menning, 2002), the Halldór Laxness Literary Award in 2004 for her novel A Boat With a Sail and All/Bátur með segil og allt (Mál og menning, 2004), and the West-Nordic Children's Literature Prize in 2010 for the novel The Garden/Garðurinn (Mál og menning, 2008). Kristný’s collection of poetry A Weak Spot/Höggstaður (Mál og menning, 2007) was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize in 2007; she later won the prize in 2010 for her book of poetry Blood-Hoof/Blóðhófnir (Mál og menning, 2010), which is based on the myth about Freyr and the poet’s namesake Gerður Gymisdóttir from the Eddic poem Skírnimál.

Helen Mitsios is the editor of the forthcoming book Beneath the Ice: Contemporary Icelandic Poetry (Talisman House, Publishers, 2014). She is the editor of Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs: The Best 21st Century Short Stories from Japan (Cheng & Tsui, 2011) and New Japanese Voices: The Best Contemporary Fiction from Japan (Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2003), which was listed as a New York Times Book Review Summer Reading Selection and New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Mitsios has contributed to publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post’s Book World.

Bragi Ólafsson (b. 1962, Reykjavík) has published six books of poetry, six novels, three collections of short stories, and a number of plays for the stage and radio. He worked as a musician, internationally, for six years, but has worked as a fulltime writer since 2001 and is considered one of the most prominent novelists and poets in Iceland. Ólafsson’s poetry and plays have been translated into various languages, and two of his novels, The Pets/Gaeludyrin (2008) and The Ambassador/Sendiherrann (2010) are available in English (both published by Open Letter Press), German, and Danish. The Pets has also been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic. His plays, for the National Theatre and Reykjavík City Theatre, have enjoyed great popularity, as well as controversy. Four of his novels have been nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize, two of them received the Booksellers Prize, and one them, Party Games/Samkvaemisleikir (Bjartur, 2004), won the DV Cultural Prize. His novel The Ambassador was shortlisted for the Nordic Literature Prize. One of his plays, The Chickens/Hænuungarnir (2010), was nominated for the Nordic Drama Prize. Among Ólafsson’s translations are works by Harold Pinter, Paul Auster, and Max Jacob.

Ólafsson’s latest poetry collection was published in 2012 and he is currently working on a novel and a short story collection to be published in 2015.

Supported in part by the Icelandic Literature Center.

exhibition icon

See also ICELAND: Artists Respond to Place in EXHIBITIONS section.

Back to top of page

August Bournonville and the Danish Joy of Dance
Lecture by Erik Aschengreen

Monday, January 12, 6:30 pm

August Bournonville and the Danish Joy of Dance - Lecture by Erik AschengreenIn this lecture Danish ballet historian and dance journalist Erik Aschengreen focuses on Danish ballet master and choreographer August Bournonville (1805-79): the characteristics of his dance, style, and how the Bournonville tradition has been preserved from generation to generation. Bournonville ballets are distinguished by their positive outlook, in which conflicts are resolved and the lovers are finally united.

August Bournonville raised the Royal Danish Ballet – one of the world’s oldest ballet companies with a repertoire danced in an unbroken tradition since the beginning of the 19th century – to an international level of ability and at the same time gave it a unique national quality, which remains to this day its distinctive characteristic.

Bournonville believed in a world of meaning and order, which is reflected in his ballets. The key word is harmony – in mind and dance. His ballets may appear to be idyllic, but the happy endings are hard won; forces of light and dark battle in Bournonville’s ballets.

The lecture also includes an overview of The Joyce Theater’s program The Royal Danish Ballet: Principals and Soloists (Tuesday, January 13 through Sunday, January 18, 2015), with excerpts from the following ballets: La Sylphide (1832), Napoli (1842), The Conservatory (1849), A Folk Tale (1854), The Flower Festival in Genzano (1858), and From Siberia to Moscow (1876).

About Erik Aschengreen

Erik AschengreenErik Aschengreen (b. 1935) is a Danish ballet critic, historian, and theorist. He earned his Ph.D. with his thesis Jean Cocteau and the Dance from the University of Copenhagen in 1986. From 1969 to 2000 he was a professor at the University of Copenhagen, where he founded the discipline of dance aesthetics and history in 1989. Between 1964 and 2004, Aschengreen was also the dance critic for Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende. He taught ballet history at the Royal Danish Ballet School from 1971-1993 and, later, at the School of Contemporary Dance, when it was established in 1990.

Over the years, Aschengreen has taught and lectured on Bournonville and the Romantic ballet tradition all over the United States, including the University of Chicago, Jacob’s Pillow, the American Dance Festival in Connecticut, Sarah Lawrence College, Mills College, and the University of California at Riverside and at Irvine. He was guest lecturer at the American Dance Critics’ Annual Meeting in New York (1979), before the First Bournonville Festival in Copenhagen. Aschengreen has also lectured in Canada, Europe, China, and Japan, often in connection with guest performances by the Royal Danish Ballet.

Aschengreen has written a number of books, including The Beautiful Danger: Facets of the Romantic Ballet, published in the U.S. (Dance Perspectives Foundation, 1974) and in Denmark as Farlige Sylfider: Studier i den romantiske ballet i Frankrig og Danmark (Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1975), and Mester: Historien om Harald Lander (Gyldendal, 2005), which appeared in English in 2009 under the title Harald Lander – His Life and Ballets (Dance Books Ltd.). In The Dance is On: The Royal Danish Ballet 1948-1998/Der går dans: Den Kongelige Ballet 1948-1998 (Gyldendal, 1998), Aschengreen describes 50 seasons of the Royal Danish Ballet. Seduced by the Ballet/Forført af balletten (Gyldendal, 2011) is both a memoir and an introduction to the art where he examines the ballet classics, as he has watched them over the past 60 years. In fall 2014 Erik Aschengreen published – in Danish and English – Dancing Across the Atlantic, USA – Denmark 1900-2014 (The Royal Danish Theater).

Co-presented with The Joyce Theater.

music icon

Markings & Music
In Celebration of Dag Hammarskjöld with H.E. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson & Per Tengstrand

Thursday, January 15, 7 pm
$25 ($20 ASF Members)

music icon

See Music on Park Avenue: Evenings with Pianist Per Tengstrand in CONCERTS section.

Back to top of page

The Age of the Vikings
Lecture by Professor Anders Winroth

Tuesday, February 24, 6:30 pm

The Age of the Vikings Lecture by Professor Anders WinrothDrawing on a wealth of written, visual, and archaeological evidence, Yale University Professor Anders Winroth sheds new light on the complex society and culture of the legendary seafarers who were the Vikings in his recent book The Age of the Vikings (Princeton University Press, 2014).

The Vikings maintain their grip on our imaginations, but their image is too often distorted by medieval and modern myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and developed a vast trading network. They traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships, not only to raid, but also to explore. Despite their fearsome reputation, the Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets and even the infamous berserkers were far from invincible.

Winroth not only explains the Viking attacks, but also looks at Viking endeavors in commerce, politics, discovery, and colonization, and reveals how Viking arts, literature, and religious thought evolved in ways unequaled in the rest of Europe. He shows how the Vikings seized on the boundless opportunities made possible by the invention of the longship, using it to venture to Europe for plunder, to open new trade routes, and to settle in lands as distant as Russia, Greenland, and the Byzantine Empire. Challenging the image of the Vikings that comes so easily to mind, Winroth argues that Viking chieftains were no more violent than men like Charlemagne, who committed atrocities on a far greater scale than the northern raiders.

By dismantling the myths, The Age of the Vikings allows the full story of this period in medieval history to be told. By exploring every major facet of this exciting age, Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage.

Copies of The Age of Vikings will also be available for purchase and signing following the program.

About the author

Anders WinrothAnders Winroth (b. 1965, Ludvika) is the Forst Family Professor of History at Yale University. He specializes in the history of medieval Europe, especially religious, intellectual, and legal history as well as the Viking Age.

In 2003 Winroth was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which honors individuals for the originality and creativity of their work and the potential to do more in the future.

He is also the author of The Making of Gratian’s Decretum (Cambridge University Press, 2001), The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe (Yale University Press, 2012), and The Age of the Vikings (2014). His research is focused on the cultural, intellectual, and legal history of the European High Middle Ages and on the economic and social history of early medieval Scandinavia.

Winroth received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1996 and was the Sir James Knott Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1996-98. He joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor in 1998, was promoted to associate professor in 2003, and to full professor in 2004. He served as chair of the Medieval Studies Program 2005-07.

Back to top of page