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Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Vinland Loop

I am stuck in something I like to call the Vinland Loop.

I have noticed in our history program that many people's particular historical interests have emerged. I think I can safely give myself the nickname of Viking Girl. It does seem a little ingenuous to give yourself your own nickname, but I am going to go for it.

Vinland is a fascinating topic. Sagas and literature give you just enough to tantalize you with the prospect of locating it in North America, but stop short of allowing you to ever prove that you have found the location. Not only that, Vikings and the Norse are a very exciting, somewhat romantic topic.

It gives us so many things to talk about, discuss and debate, that so much has been written about it. It continues to pose academic problems, not least of which is when we realize we are clearly so interested in who were the first Europeans to arrive here, and what that means for us as a people.

As I have said before, Vinland and the Viking presence in, well, Canada really, is one of the reasons I decided to specialize in Vikings; they covered so much that I was interested in, including Medieval History and Canadian History.

But I find myself in a Vinland loop. I am interested in Vikings in part because of Vinland (the decision to study certain aspects of history is usually some sort of personal connection) so I write about it or do projects about it. It is easy to see how so much nationalistic and romantic literature is written about it. And then when I try to think about what I know that will be relevant for Canadians, I am drawn back to Vinland. While I study generally, as a subject, Vikings, I keep writing about Vinland and doing projects about Vinland because it is what will be interesting to the public I am hoping to represent. They too are most likely to be drawn in by showing them their personal connection.

It's not a problem really. The very obvious solution would be, don't. I certainly don't find it to be a problem. But it does appear that I am working very hard to pigeon hole myself into one particular subject, though I do have wide interests.

So in summary, look out for more about Vinland from me in the future. I am sure it is forthcoming.

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