Chris Abram

Associate Professor of English

Specialty: Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse Literature and Culture

Degrees: BA, MA, MPhil, PhD (all University of Cambridge)

Chris Abram is interested in the literary cultures of early medieval northern Europe, especially Anglo-Saxon England and Viking-Age and later Norway and Iceland. His work often deals with the region’s transition from paganism to Christianity and its impact on literary production. Myths of the Pagan North: the Gods of the Norsemen (London: Continuum, 2011), Chris’s first book, is an innovative history of Norse mythology that treats the myths as temporally contingent textual artefacts that are bound up with contemporary, and changing, religious and political concerns. Myths of the Pagan North is particularly concerned to show how profoundly the arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia affected the production and form of the Norse myths, which reflects Chris’s interest in Conversion to Christianity as a cultural process: his current book project is a volume of essays, co-edited with Ildar Garipzanov, on conversion and religious identity in the Viking World, and he has an article forthcoming in Speculum on the theoretical conceptions of conversion that underlie vernacular Scandinavian accounts of personal religious experiences.

Chris teaches on a wide range of topics relating to his other research interests: Old English literature (especially Beowulf), the Icelandic sagas and Old Norse eddic and skaldic poetry, and mythology. He is also increasingly fascinated by the hypermediality of medieval texts and by ecocritical approaches to early medieval culture.

Selected Publications

  • ‘Modelling Religious Experience in Old Norse Conversion Narratives: The Case of Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld and Óláfr Tryggvason’, forthcoming in Speculum
  • ‘Felling Trees and Feeling Trees in Medieval Iceland’, forthcoming in Nordic Naturecultures, ed. C. Thomson and C. Bailey (U. of Washington Press)
  • ‘Einarr Skúlason, Snorri Sturluson and the Post-Pagan Mythological Kenning’, forthcoming in Poetic Variety in Medieval Iceland, ed. M. Chase (New York: Fordham UP, 2013)
  • Myths of the Pagan North (London: Continuum, 2011)
  • 'New Light on the Illumination of Grendel's Mere', JEGP 109 (2010), 198-216
  • 'Gylfaginning and Early Medieval Conversion Theory', Saga-Book 33 (2009), 5-24
  • 'Anglo-Saxon Homilies in their Scandinavian Context', in The Old English Homily. Precedence, Practice, and Appropriation, ed. A. Kleist, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 17 (Turnhout, 2007), pp. 425-444
  • 'Aldhelm and the Two Cultures of Anglo-Saxon Poetry', Literature Compass 4 (2007)
  • 'The Errors in The Rhyming Poem', Review of English Studies 58 (2007), 1-9
  • 'Hel in Early Norse Poetry', Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 2 (2006), 1-29
  • 'Snorri’s Invention of Hermóðr’s helreið', in The Fantastic in Old Norse / Icelandic Literature. Sagas and the British Isles. Preprint Papers of the 13th International Saga Conference, Durham and York, 6th-12th August, 2006, ed. John McKinnell et al. (Durham, 2006), I, 22-31
  • 'Anglo-Saxon Influence in the Old Norwegian Homily Book', Mediaeval Scandinavia14 (2004), 1-34


Contact Information
219 Decio Hall
(574) 631-7170

Postal address
Department of English
356 O’Shaughnessy
Notre Dame, IN 46556