Chris Abram

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. Other recent work has built on this interest in conversion from paganism to Christianity as a cultural process. 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. He is also increasingly fascinated by the hypermediality of medieval texts and by ecocritical approaches to early medieval culture: he is working on a second monograph, provisionally entitled Evergreen Ash: The Ecopoetics of Old Norse Literature, which explores human/non-human relations in a particularly marginal (not to say magical) European natureculture. After being awarded a grant by Notre Dame’s Faculty Research Support Program, Chris is now also leading a project that will produce the first comprehensive and accessible edition of the whole Old Norse-Icelandic sermon corpus.

Selected Publications
  • ‘Modeling Religious Experience in Old Norse Conversion Narratives: the case of Óláfr Tryggvason and Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld’, Speculum 90 (2015), 114-57
  • ‘Einarr Skúlason, Snorri Sturluson and the Post-Pagan Mythological Kenning’, in Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond: Poetic Variety in Medieval Iceland, ed. M. Chase (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014), pp. 44-61
  • ‘The “Two Modes of Religiosity” in Conversion-Era Scandinavia’, in Conversion and Identity in the Viking Age, ed. I. Garipzanov, MISCS 5 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 21-48
  • 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


Contact Information
219 Decio Hall
(574) 631-7170

Postal address
Department of English
233 Decio Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556