Frenze, Maj-Britt



Name: Maj-Britt


Language: Modern Icelandic

Location of Study: Reykjavík, Iceland

Program of Study: Summer Course in Modern Icelandic

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures

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A brief personal bio:

I am a PhD student in the Medieval Institute studying the literatures of medieval England and Scandinavia, and my research focuses on portrayals of landscapes and the environment in medieval texts across a variety of genres. I have a Masters of Theological Studies from Notre Dame and a B.A. in the Political & Social Thought Program and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. When not ensconced in the library, I enjoy music, volleyball, and ceramics.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

I want to study Modern Icelandic not only to learn a modern spoken language relevant to my field, but also because this is a unique opportunity to study a modern language while deepening my facility with a medieval one. Old Norse (also known as Old Icelandic) is one of the main languages of study in my dissertation, which analyzes the symbolism of landscape in medieval literature. Though I have reading and translating proficiency in Old Norse, knowledge of Modern Icelandic would not only deepen my comprehension of the medieval language but would also allow me to read scholarship composed in Modern Icelandic and eventually to speak with Icelandic scholars in their mother tongue. Learning Modern Icelandic would enable me to engage in my field in a far more profound way than I could do otherwise, and I hope to return to Iceland many times over the course of my career to continue to learn its spoken language.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

Naturally I do not expect to leave the course fluent in Modern Icelandic, but I intend that this experience would lay the foundation for further development of my Modern Icelandic as well as begin a long-lasting scholarly relationship with the ́rni Magn̼sson Institute for Icelandic Studies. I hope to leave the Summer Course able to initiate and sustain competent conversations in Icelandic, ideally on diverse topics relevant to both the modern day and to my own research. I may apply for postdoctorate opportunities in Iceland after finishing my doctoral studies, and this experience would be an invaluable boon in that case. I hope that my Icelandic would improve enough that I could attend lectures on Icelandic literature conducted in Icelandic and be able to understand and retain most of the content. Alongside language learning and cultural immersion, I will develop both scholarly and personal relationships with native Icelanders, as well as with the other international students in the Summer Course.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. At the end of the summer, I will have attained conversational competency and be able to ask and answer everyday questions in Modern Icelandic. I will have maximized my learning experience by using Modern Icelandic with native Icelanders at every opportunity. I will have overcome my fear of Icelandic pronunciation!

2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to read scholarly articles in Modern Icelandic more fluently and feel confident citing and translating Icelandic secondary sources in my work.

3. At the end of the summer, I will be able to maintain intelligent conversations about my research with a native Icelander and be able to ask thoughtful questions about the sagas in Icelandic.

4. At the end of the summer, I will have at least started to read one Modern Icelandic novel, which I hopefully will be able to finish reading during the language program. Iceland has had a rich literary heritage since the Middle Ages, and I want to participate in its contemporary literary culture!

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: