European success for Norwegian humanities researchers

“This shows that Norwegian humanities researchers are both highly competent and offensive when it comes to participating in the international competition for research funds,” says Anders Hanneborg, Executive Director of the Division for Science at the Research Council of Norway.

A growing field

“The humanities are one of the research fields that have grown most in Norway in the last 20 years,” says Hanneborg. ”Norwegian humanities researchers have substantial competence that is an important resource to society. The breakthrough in the competition for HERA funding shows that their research also stands out in an international context.”

The Research Council of Norway contributed NOK 8.5 million to the HERA pot. Now, Norwegian researchers have received almost NOK 21 million in return through project funding.

Norwegian researchers in charge of two projects

Two of the 19 projects that were recently approved by HERA are led by Norwegian researchers. One of these projects concerns medieval thingsteads (places where assemblies were held) and their importance to political development, while the other deals with the present day, focusing on the connection between IT, literature and creativity.

Learning more about medieval assemblies

“Our project will investigate the role played by the organization of these assemblies, or things, and the thingsteads themselves in the development of identity, the formation of states and the kingdoms in the early Middle Ages in Northern Europe,” says Frode Iversen.

Iversen, who is head of the archaeology department at the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, is coordinating The Assembly Project – Meeting-places in Northern Europe AD 400-1500, in which researchers from the UK and Austria are also participating.

”There has been little research on thingsteads compared with, for example, churches, royal estates and other important sites. We want to investigate what significance these assemblies had for political development in the Viking era in Scandinavia and in the areas colonized by the Vikings. This will be accomplished by analyzing archaeological, historical, geographical and linguistic material from different areas,” Iversen tells us.

”The project will also study the organization of the assemblies in the British Isles and North Atlantic islands. We also want to investigate how the thingsteads are described and interpreted in historiography from the 18th century until the present, to find out how they have been perceived and the importance assigned to them in a Pan-European context.”

ICT, literature and creativity

How are creative electronic communities formed across national and cultural contexts? This is the subject matter of the other Norwegian-led project, of which Scott Rettberg is in charge.

Rettberg is Associate Professor at the University of Bergen. Together with partners from Sweden, Finland, the UK, Slovenia and the Netherlands, he will now embark on the project “Developing a Network-based Creative Community: Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice.”

Using ICT, authors, artists, computer experts and students come together in creative communities to write and produce electronic literature that integrates text, sound and images. “We want to investigate the social effects of communities of this type and how they influence creativity,” says Rettberg.

“On the basis of ethnographic case studies, we will compare different electronic communities and study how they are created and cooperate, and what effect this has on the creative product,” he says.

“The project will also investigate how electronic literature can be connected to networks, and the form this takes in different cultural and linguistic contexts. One important goal is to understand how innovation can arise within these contexts,” Rettberg concludes.

Source: Research Council of Norway

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