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Mr Richard Cole
Department of Scandinavian Studies
University College London
  • Early Career Fellowship
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Positions held:
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University College London (September 2017 – present).

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Notre Dame (January 2016 – September 2017).

Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Harvard University (May 2015 – January 2016).

PhD Older Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University (2015)
Thesis title: “The Jew Who Wasn’t There: Studies on Jews and their Absence in Old Norse Literature”. Supervisors: Prof. Stephen Mitchell (Harvard Germanic Dept.), Prof. Joseph Harris (Harvard English Dept.), Prof. Jeffrey McDonough (Harvard Philosophy Dept.).

MA Language, Culture and History: Medieval and West Norse Studies, Distinction, University College London (2011).

BA Viking Studies (Hons.), 1st class degree, with a Distinction in Spoken Danish, University College London (2010).

Research Summary

My current project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, offers a reading of medieval Scandinavian literature in pursuit of two general aims: 1) To provide a new critique of bureaucracy from a literary perspective, rooted in the transhistorical experience of how it feels to be immersed in a bureaucratic regime. 2) To challenge the suggestion that bureaucracy is a symptom of the modern state. Examples from the literature of medieval Iceland – an entirely stateless society until the year 1262 – demonstrate that bureaucratic thinking can emerge under diverse social conditions, and in a surprising variety of cultural spheres, from gender relations to Norse mythology.

A common strand running through all my research is an interest in the narrative means by which people are persuaded to accept certain ideologies, and how those ideologies subsequently compel people to oppress both others and themselves. My doctoral research concerned the emergence of anti-Jewish imagery in Old Norse literature. Subsequently, I was employed at the University of Notre Dame to produce a new edition and translation of the Old Norwegian Homily Book.

You can read more about my Leverhulme project here: http://bit.ly/2vSeV4f

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