Over recent decades the concept of literacy has been an important field of discussion in Medieval and Early Modern studies, and questions concerning the uses of literacy, the number of literates, differing writing systems, modes of communication and the interaction between orality and literacy have occupied researchers from various disciplines. The aim of this volume is to introduce Scandinavian literacy to the international field of research. On the one hand it seeks to underline important aspects possibly unique to Scandinavia, and, on the other hand, to provide a basis that can contribute to a better general understanding of literacy. Because of the volume’s interdisciplinary approach, a relatively wide range of material is invoked to illuminate the subject matter.
The thirteen papers, written by philologists, historians and archaeologists, discuss not only written material, but also orality and what might be categorised as ‘visual literacy’. The papers deal with both images and ornamented archaeological findings and linguistic phenomena. Among the written material investigated we find prose and poetry, as well as religious, juridical and administrative texts. Topics considered include both the Latin and runic alphabets, pragmatic literacy concerning legal and commercial transactions and quantitative aspects of literacy. Also considered are various aspects of relevance for literacy studies in particular and Medieval Studies in general, such as problems of definition and methodological considerations.