Those interested in Iceland’s history and future will be gathering at California Lutheran University next month for the 16th Annual Nordic Spirit Symposium. The two-day conference’s theme is ‘Iceland: Land of Fire, Ice and Vikings’.
The even will be held February 6th and 7th and features seven speakers that talk about the island’s past and present. Among the medievalists on hand will be UCLA Professor Jesse Byock, who will talk about the Mosfell Archaeological Project, which combines history, archaeology, anthropology, forensics, environmental sciences and saga studies to better understand a 9th century settlement in southwest Iceland.
Elisabeth Ward, Director of the Scandinavian Center at Pacific Lutheran University, will speak on ‘The Ins and Outs of Icelandic History: From Viking Settlement to Recent Times’, while Apostolos Athanassakis of California State University – Santa Barbara will deliver ‘Viking and Homeric Values – Intriguing Parallels: The Case of Iceland’ that compares the Homeric religious and social institutions found in Homer’s epics and the Poetic Eddas and sagas of medieval Icelandic literature.
More modern topics will also be discussed, including Ásgeir Margeirsson, CEO of HS Orka, speaking on Iceland’s energy production and use of geothermal energy. The country is the world’s largest producer of electricity per capita and has the lowest per capita emissions from energy production. Eiríkur Steingrímsson, a professor at the University of Iceland Biomedical Center, will talk about how Iceland, with a population of just 320,000, has become a leader in human genomics research and how this achievement may impact health care.
The indie folk band The Evening Guests with singer-songwriter Jokull Jonsson will lighten the mood on the afternoon of Feb. 7 with musical entertainment. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Anna Mjöll will provide that evening’s dinner entertainment. Mjöll grew up in one of Iceland’s leading musical families and represented her country in the famed Eurovision Song Contest. She later toured worldwide with the Julio Iglesias band before setting out on her own as a jazz singer.
A reception will kick off the event at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Scandinavian Center. The symposium will conclude with dinner and entertainment at 7 p.m. 7 in the Lundring Events Center. All presentations will be in Samuelson Chapel.
California Lutheran University and the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation are sponsoring the symposium. The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and the Norway House Foundation in San Francisco provided grants.