Matthew Townend

Profile

Biography

Matthew Townend’s research interests are in the language, literature and history of Viking Age England, Old Norse poetry, and late Anglo-Saxon literary culture. He is also interested in Anglo-Saxon and Norse medievalism, especially in the nineteenth century.

He is the author of English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse (English Place-Name Society, 1998), Language and History in Viking Age England (Brepols, 2002), and The Vikings and Victorian Lakeland: the Norse medievalism of W.G. Collingwood and his contemporaries (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2009), and the editor of Wulfstan, Archbishop of York (Brepols, 2004).

He is currently editing the skaldic poems in honour of King Cnut, and writing a book about Viking Age Yorkshire.

Research

Overview

My general interests are in Old Norse and Old English language and literature. In particular my research focuses on England and Scandinavia in the ninth to eleventh centuries: I am interested in the language, literature, and history of Viking Age England, Old Norse poetry, and late Anglo-Saxon literary culture. I have written two books on linguistic and literary contacts between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, as well as a number of articles examining aspects of Old Norse culture in Viking Age England, and have edited a collection of essays on Archbishop Wulfstan of York (1002-23). My work has endeavoured to show how late Anglo-Saxon England should really be thought of as Anglo-Scandinavian England, and has explored the multifarious relations between Old English and Old Norse language and literature.

I am also interested in the post-medieval reception of the Middle Ages, especially Anglo-Saxon and Norse medievalism in the nineteenth century, and have recently written a book about the author and artist W.G. Collingwood (1854-1932) and the study of the Vikings in the Lake District.

Current projects

I am currently engaged in editing the Old Norse poems in praise of King Cnut (early eleventh-century king of England, Denmark and Norway), as part of a major international project to re-edit the entire corpus of Old Norse skaldic verse (see http://skaldic.arts.usyd.edu.au). I am also writing a book about Viking Age Yorkshire.

Supervision

I am interested in supervising research in any area of Old Norse or late Anglo-Saxon studies, and also in nineteenth-century medievalism. Current and past PhD topics supervised include: the representation of violence in Viking Age England; Viking Age colonialism; drinking culture in Old Norse; the relationship between law and literature in medieval Iceland; kinship in the Viking diaspora; Geoffrey of Monmouth in Iceland; and the Folklore Society in the late nineteenth century.

Publications

Selected publications

  • The Vikings and Victorian Lakeland: the Norse medievalism of W.G. Collingwood and his contemporaries (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2009)
  • Scandinavian Culture in Eleventh-Century Yorkshire, The Kirkdale Lecture 2007 (The Friends of St Gregory’s Minster, 2007)
  • 'In Search of the Lakeland Saga: Antiquarian Fiction and the Norse Settlement in Cumbria', in David Clark and Carl Phelpstead (eds), Old Norse Made New: Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture (Viking Society for Northern Research, 2007)
  • 'Contacts and Conflicts: Latin, Norse, and French', in Lynda Mugglestone (ed.), The Oxford History of the English Language (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • 'Knútr and the Cult of St Óláfr: Poetry and Patronage in Eleventh-Century Norway and England', Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 1 (2005), 251-79
  • (Ed.) Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 10 (Brepols, 2004)
  • 'Whatever Happened to York Viking Poetry? Memory, Tradition and the Transmission of Skaldic Verse', Saga-Book of the Viking Society 27 (2003), 48-90
  • Language and History in Viking Age England: Linguistic Relations between Speakers of Old Norse and Old English, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 6 (Brepols, 2002; paperback edition, 2005)
  • 'Contextualizing the Knútsdrápur: Skaldic Praise-Poetry at the Court of Cnut', Anglo-Saxon England 30 (2001), 145-79
  • 'Norse Poets and English Kings: Skaldic Performance in Anglo-Saxon England', Offa 58 (2001), 269-75
  • 'Pre-Cnut Praise-Poetry in Viking Age England', The Review of English Studies, New Series 51 (2000), 349-70
  • 'Viking Age England as a Bilingual Society', in Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards (eds), Cultures in Contact: Scandinavian Settlement in England in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 2 (Brepols, 2000)
  • English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse, English Place-Name Society Extra Series 1 (English Place-Name Society, 1998)

External activities

Memberships

  • Hon. Secretary, Viking Society for Northern Research

photo by Ian Martindale

Contact details

Dr Matthew Townend
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Heslington
York
Y010 5DD

Tel: 44 1904 323922
Fax: 44 1904 323918