Robert S. and Ilse Friend Professor of Scandinavian and Folklore
Old Norse literature and mythology; North sea ballads; witchcraft and magic; oral literature; folklore
My research addresses a wide variety of genres and periods of Nordic culture and literature, centering on popular traditions, mythology, and legends in the late medieval and early modern periods. Among other works, I am the author of Heroic Sagas and Ballads, a study of the medieval Icelandic mythical-heroic sagas and their heritage in more recent Scandinavian ballads and other oral traditions, and of the medieval section of A History of Swedish Literature. My research in recent years, including as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and a visitor at Aarhus University, has resulted in a book-length study of witchcraft and magic throughout medieval Scandinavia: Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages. Most recently, I was a Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala. In 2015, I awarded an honorary doctorate by Aarhus University and in 2019, I was honored to receive the Jarl Gallén Prize.
In addition to being part of Harvard’s Scandinavian Program, and a member of The Committee on Medieval Studies and the FAS Standing Committee on Archaeology, I am a member (and current chairman) of The Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology, I am also Curator of the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature.
A list of some of my publications is available at: http://scholar.harvard.edu/smitchell