5th International St Magnus Conference

Island Histories and Herstories, 14-16 April 2021 content

Island Histories and Herstories, 14-16 April 2021

The 2020 St Magnus Conference was postponed, and instead took place online between 14-16 April 2021. The 2020 speakers agreed to deliver their papers online, and these were recorded. The recorded lectures are available below.


The old wives’ tale might be stuff and nonsense, but it too could yield a harvest in corn and gold, if you stroked it smooth and combed it through.
(Marina Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde, p.21)

Island life would have been impossible without the equal contribution of women and men. Women have often taken leading roles in island communities, running them when their men have been off island seeking employment, as fishermen, whalers, serving in the navy or as merchant seamen. However, is this reflected in the stories that are told?

This conference will explore both the female and male experience of island life from the Viking Age, or earlier, to the present. The primary research focus will be the islands of the North Atlantic, but there will be research and stories from other island communities. It will be a multi-disciplinary exploration, and will include contributions from historians, archaeologists, folklorists, and cultural studies, gender studies and literary scholars.

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Conference Programme content

Conference Programme

Conference Programme

Day 1: Wednesday April 14th

08:55 - 09:00 Introduction and Welcome Dr Andrew Jennings
09.00 - 10.00 Keynote Speech: Dr John Goodlad
10.00 - 16.30 Delegate Papers, Discussions & Questions
16.45 - 17.00 A Presentation of the NAW Brepols Series by The Institute for Northern Studies

Day 2: Thursday April 15th

09.00 - 16.25 Delegate Papers, Discussions & Questions
16.40 - 17.20 Getting Published: An Informal Workshop for Students and Early Career Researchers

Day 3: Friday April 16th

09.00 - 15.50 Delegate Papers, Discussions & Questions
15.50 - 16.00 Final Remarks
16.15 - 17.15 A recorded concert specially devised for the 5th St Magnus Conference performed by NORDIC VIOLA, and supported by Creative Scotland, the Ambache Charitable Trust (Raising the Profile of Women Composers), and the RVW Trust
Wednesday 14th April Schedule content

Wednesday 14th April Schedule

Wednesday 14th April Schedule

08.55 - 09.00 Dr Andrew Jennings Introduction & Welcome
09.00 – 10.00 Keynote Speaker: Dr John Goodlad The Cod Hunters: The Economic, Social & Cultural Links Between Shetland, Faroe and Iceland in the 19th Century
Women from the Northern Isles
10.00 - 10.20 Rose Pipes The New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
10.20 - 10.40 Dr Jane Rendall Women from Thule: Shetland Women Poets from the Napoleonic Wars
10.40 - 11.00 Professor Siân Reynolds Women from Northern Isles and the Visual Arts
11.00 - 11.15 Discussion & Questions  
A Porous Picture: The Influence of Gender and Relationships on Images of Scottish Island Life
11.30 - 11.50 Jenny Brownrigg Making the Pictures: Women Behind the Camera
11.50 - 12.10 Shona Main Sharing the Pictures: Women & Friendship Beyond the Films
12.10 - 12.30 Maya Darrell-Hewins Whose Pictures? Partiality in Amateur, Home-Movie Making
12.30 - 12.45 Discussion & Questions  
Women’s Voices in the Hebrides: From Medieval to Modern in Gaelic Literature, Oral Culture and the Archives
14.00 - 14.20 Robbie Anndra MacLeòid Unsung Heroes: The Women who Saved Fionn mac Cumhaill
14.20 - 14.40 Dr Kate Mathis The Islands of Fiona McLeod: A Romance
14.40 - 15.00 Dr Natasha Sumner Should She Tell a Fionn Tale? Gender, Tradition & the Academy
15.00 - 15.15 Discussion & Questions  
Who’s Your Mother? Bringing Women’s Work to the Fore on Two Atlantic Canadian Islands
15.30 - 15.50 Marlene Chapman Mulligan Raising the Glass Ceiling in the Prince Edward Island Fisheries
15.50 - 16.10 Dr Laurie Brinklow Women Making Art on PEI
16.10 - 16.30 Discussion & Questions  
16.45 - 17.00 Professor Alexandra Sanmark A presentation of our NAW Brepols series publications
Recording of 14 April Morning Session content

Recording of 14 April Morning Session

Recording of 14 April Afternoon Session content

Recording of 14 April Afternoon Session

Thursday 15th April Schedule content

Thursday 15th April Schedule

Thursday 15th April Schedule

09.00 - 09.20 Dr Simon Clarke Time, Space & Gender in the Iron Age Broch Village at Scatness, Shetland
09.20 - 09.40 Dr Andrew Jennings Olavus Pauper, the Earliest Shetland Poet
09.40 - 10.00 Dr Jack Dyce It’s Not All About Jimmy Perez: Women’s Agency in the ‘Shetland’ Novels of Ann Cleeves
10.00 - 10.15 Discussion & Questions  
Icelandic Women: Vital & Constant Figures in Icelandic Society
10.30 - 10.50 Beth Rogers Skyr Tactics: Power Through Protein in Medieval Iceland
10.50 - 11.10 Meghan Korton The Role of the Housewife in Medieval Icelandic Society
11.10 - 11.30 Árni Daníel Júlíusson 18th Century ideas of the Economic Role of Icelandic Women
11.30 - 11.45 Discussion & Questions  
Northern Voices
11.50 - 12.10 Dr Halszka Leleń Narrative Representation of Female Characters in Selected Short Stories of George Mackay Brown
12.10 - 12.30 Dr Gabrielle Barnby It’s Just a Diary: Bessie Skea & the Alienation of Memory as History
12.30 - 12.50 Dr Kirsi Keravuori Letters of a Finnish Country Skipper’s Wife
12.50 - 13.05 Discussion & Questions  
Orkney Past, Present & Future
14.00 - 14.20 Julie Cassidy The Manufacture & Distribution of Alcohol in Orkney from the 16th Century to the Present Day – The Role Played by Women
14.20 - 14.40 Annie Thuesen The Development of Orkney as a Tourist Destination
14.40 - 15.00 Fleur Ward The Role of Different Information & Communication Technologies in Connecting Orkney to the Wider World
15.00 - 15.15 Discussion & Questions  
Northern Religion
15.30 - 15.50 Dr Heidi Stoner The Image of the Cross: An Assessment of Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Sculpture & Settlements
15.50 - 16.10 Jenny Murray & Allen Fraser Three Kirks in Shetland
16.10 - 16.25 Discussion & Questions  
Getting Published: an informal workshop for students and early career researchers
16.40 – 17.20 Rosie Bonté, Publishing Manager at Brepols How academic publishing works & how to get your work into print
Recording of 15 April Morning Session content

Recording of 15 April Morning Session

Recording of 15 April Afternoon Session content

Recording of 15 April Afternoon Session

Friday 16th April Schedule content

Friday 16th April Schedule

Friday 16th April Schedule

Representations of Gender
09.00 - 09.20 Professor Christina Lee Hidden in Plain Sight
09.20 - 09.40 Rósa María Hjörvar An Island Empire, Tómas Jónsson – Bestseller
09.40 - 10.00 Dr Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir Rewriting Medieval Island Women in Novels
10.00 - 10.15 Discussion & Questions  
Magical Tradition & Stories
10.30 - 10.50 Dr Selahattin Ozkan Medical & Magical Properties of Viking Gender Identities
10.50 - 11.10 Gemma Smith The Handa-Maid's Tale: An Island Shieling
11.10 - 11.30 Dr Siún Carden Knitting Skills & Stories: Makkin & Yakkin I Shetland & the Aran Isles
11.30 - 11.45 Discussion & Questions  
Island Thoughts
13.00 - 13.20 Jedediah Anderson Remote Island Research Outposts: Work-camps of Knowledge on the Periphery of Empire
13.20 - 13.40 Professor Sumarlíði Ísleifsson Ida Pfeiffer & Travels in Iceland in the 19th Century
13.40 - 13.50 Discussion & Questions  
Women’s Work
14.10 - 14.30 Rosie Gibson ‘The Work They Say is Mine’: Women in Shetland – A Talk About the Film 
14.30 - 14.50 Gailann Riven Peake Drams and Dames: How Women Have Shaped & Developed the Highland & Island Whisky Industry
14.50 - 15.10 Cassidy Croci Your Farm or Mine? Marriage & Patterns of Female Movement in Landnámabók
15.10 - 15.30 Dr Pam Perkins Reconstructing Narratives: Women’s Lives in 19th Century Newfoundland
15.30 - 15.50 Discussion & Questions  
15.50 – 16.00 Final Remarks
16.15 – 17.15

A recorded concert specially devised for the 5th St Magnus Conference, performed by NORDIC VIOLA and supported by CREATIVE SCOTLAND, the AMBACHE CHARITABLE TRUST (Raising the profile of women composers) and THE RVW TRUST, presenting reflections on female experience of landscapes, motherhood and social gatherings around the North Atlantic region in music by women composers for string quartet and solo viola.

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Recording of 16 April Morning Session content

Recording of 16 April Morning Session

Recording of 16 April Afternoon Session content

Recording of 16 April Afternoon Session