The Vinland sagas are the earliest known narratives of first contact between Europeans and the native peoples of North America, and thus are a crucial archive of both Nordic and Native American history. After a decade of working with the Eastern Algonquian-speaking peoples of the Canadian Maritime Provinces and northern New England, award-winning American Studies scholar Annette Kolodny has uncovered the Native American side of the Vinland story.

In her latest book, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery (2012), Professor Kolodny rereads the sagas through the eyes of both the native peoples of Vinland and the Norse colonists. With an acute literary understanding of the sagas, Professor Kolodny additionally unravels episodes in the sagas whose meanings have baffled previous generations of scholars.

About Annette Kolodny

Professor Kolodny was formerly Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona and is currently College of Humanities Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture at that institution. She first studied the corpus of Icelandic sagas at the University of Oslo in Norway in 1961. In 1969, she earned a Ph.D. in American Literature and Interdisciplinary American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. Before being recruited as the first woman academic dean by the University of Arizona in 1988, she had been a faculty member and taught at Yale University, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maryland, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she introduced women’s studies and developed a wide range of innovative new courses in the humanities.

Following several invited lectures at universities in Norway and several conference presentations in that country, in 1993 Professor Kolodny was elected to lifetime membership in the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Her many books and articles have been translated and circulated worldwide. Her most recent book, published this summer by Duke University Press, is In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery. One early reviewer has commented that “her exposition of the sagas is absolutely superb,” and another reviewer has predicted that “this brilliantly written book is bound to become a classic.



Photo by the American-Scandinavian Foundation

THU – 10-9-2012 – 6:30 PM