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Featured Faculty: Verena Höfig

10/12/2016  8:00 am

Verena Höfig is a Postdoctoral Research Associate of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

Informed by her training in Scandinavian and medieval German studies, history, political science, and archaeology, Dr. Höfig's research focuses on the intersection of literature, material culture, and social history in Northern Europe from the Middle Ages until today. Dr. Höfig is currently finishing up the manuscript of her first book, Icelandic Origins - A History of Iceland's First Viking Settler, which explores the cultural history of Iceland through the key figure of its first Viking settler, the Norwegian chieftain-son Ingólfr Arnarson. According to written tradition, Ingólfr settled the island in the year 874 AD. The book analyzes the changing representations of this settler, in reverse chronological order, throughout 1200 years of Icelandic history, drawing from modern and contemporary works of art and scholarly debates to the first literary texts in the vernacular and the earliest traces of habitation on the island.

Her next project is dedicated to the symbolic quality of chairs, highseats, highseat pillars, and ceremonial platforms in the pre-Christian North. This study aims to provide a new perspective on the relationship between texts and artifacts in early Scandinavia, along with exploring the literary and art historical background of one of the most ubiquitous but under-studied objects in society: the chair.

A second project intended for publication in the near future builds on an interest in medical history and obstetrics in pre‐Christian Northern Europe and Germany, and discusses an Old High German healing charm, Eddic poetry, and runic inscriptions in Latin as potential birthing aids. Like her other research projects, this paper focuses on the interplay of material and textual artifacts, here seen from the vantage point of medical practices used during childbirth, which involved the recitation of poetry and charms, and the actual, physical application of scripture onto women's bodies.

Dr. Höfig received her M.A. degree from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich, Germany, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She also studied at Háskóli Íslands in Reykjavík, Iceland, and spent several summers in Uppsala, Sweden, and on archaeological field sites in Scandinavia.

In her spare time, she likes to participate in running events, and recently competed in her first triathlon. A second passion of hers is collecting and drinking tea from around the world.