Conference Thoreau & the Nick of time
CALL FOR PAPERS to “THOREAU & the NICK of TIME”
Thoreau Symposium to be held at The Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Centre, Reykholt, Iceland, on May 25-27 (Wed-Fri), 2022, with voluntary joint excursions on May 28-29 (Sat-Sun), 2022. In case rescheduling proves necessary due to COVID-19, designated backup dates, likely during the fall of 2022, will be announced.
Plenary: Laura Dassow Walls, William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English, University of Notre Dame, plus several invited session speakers.
Organizers: Bergur Thorgeirsson (Executive Director, Snorrastofa); Henrik Otterberg (Thoreau Society, Sweden); Deborah Medenbach (Thoreau Society, USA), Michael Frederick (Executive Director, Thoreau Society, USA).
Theme: Thoreau grappled with new scientific concepts of time, which opened up immense chronologies and hints of a vastly more senescent Earth than earlier known or thought possible. The relatively contained and traditional Biblical narrative of a few millennia of history were fundamentally rocked. Thoreau himself lamented the loss of simpler times of mythological clarity and cyclical revolution, while also clear-eyed about his rapidly changing present. Today we embrace the concept of “deep time” as regards the age of our universe and planet, but increasingly worry about an imminent and self-created environmental catastrophe. Once again we feel our worldly time to be short, the responsibility fundamentally our own. How to find a sustainable way forward, and may Thoreau help us to it?
Affiliated presentation topics include: science (how did the natural sciences of Thoreau’s day, saliently geology and zoology, open up and challenge traditionally and theologically received notions of time?); aesthetics (how did Thoreau deal with and portray time in his own thought and writings?); history (is it linear, circular, staggered, or perhaps just chaotic? what did Thoreau himself make of it?); furthermore politics (which timeframes are relevant to making informed, ethical decisions? a single human life or career, or perhaps something larger, of longer duration? can other cultural time- and resource frameworks than the traditionally Western - and hence often colonial - provide clues or answers?); and finally reception (has Thoreau’s time come or gone, in terms of his relevance to us?)
Please submit your abstracts/session proposals of maximum 500 words by November 1, 2021, via email to Henrik Otterberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Practical Information regarding the symposium “Thoreau & the Nick of Time” to be held at The Snorrastofa, Cultural and Medieval Centre in Reykholt, Iceland, on May 25-27 (Wed-Fri), 2022, with voluntary joint excursions on May 28-29 (Sat-Sun), 2022.
The symposium will be held at Snorrastofa’s conference halls, the main hall in the old school building and the library in Snorrastofa’s main building beside the Church of Reykholt. The formal address is quite simple: Reykholt, 320 Reykholt, Iceland (tel. +354 433 8000 and +354 893 1492).
Reykholt is 109 kilometers north-west of Reykjavík (inland). It is a tiny village with the population of only 47. Unfortunately, the busses do not travel that far. So, if you decide to take a bus or a taxi to Reykjavík first, we will provide a charter bus to take attendees from Reykjavík to Reykholt, free of charge. This is also an option for those who rent a vehicle, although they are welcome to drive to Reykholt themselves. Each attendee, however, must pay for their own travel expenses to Reykjavík (flights, bus, etc.). And don’t worry, more information on this will come as the conference gets nearer. We will also provide a map in due course.
For more information about the institution, see our website.
Fee: There is no fee to attend the conference. It is free to everyone and open to the public.
The conference will provide snacks and coffee in the conference halls to attendees during the hours of the symposium, but the lunches will be provided and served at the Fosshótel Reykholt, which is in a three-minute walking distance from the conference halls. However, each attendee is responsible for their own dinners and any other refreshments (alcohol, etc.) after the symposium finishes each day.
Airport: The Icelandic international airport is in the town Keflavík, approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. There are a few travel options. The cheapest is to take a charter bus that runs regularly from the airport to the city (the fare is from 3.499 ISK or 27 USD). The most popular of these is Flybus, which stop just outside the arrival terminal, but there are other options. You can either purchase tickets in advance or once you get to the airport. You can find information and prices here: https://www.re.is/tour/flybus/.
You can also take a taxi at the airport, which is more expensive (about 15.500-18.000 ISK or 118-137 USD for 1-4 persons). It is recommended that you ask about the price before the journey starts. There are plenty of taxis available at the airport 24 hours a day, but you can also schedule a ride with one of the many companies, for instance Hreyfill: https://www.hreyfill.is/en/keflavik-airport/ or BSR: https://www.bsr.is/services
Another option is to rent a car. You need to have a valid driver’s license from your own country and at least 20 years of age. There are quite a few companies that operate both at Keflavík airport and around Iceland. Here is helpful guide for renting a car in Iceland: car rental.
Unless you rent a car, you will have to first travel to Reykjavík before going to Reykholt where the symposium will take place. These names sound alike but they are different parts of the country!
Reykholt has limited options for accommodation. We recommend that everyone stay at the Fosshótel, which sits literally behind Snorrastofa. We are currently working on pricing a group discount and will update everyone when that is solidified. Fosshótel features a restaurant and a bar, as well as a spa that features hot tubs, a sauna, and more. These costs will not be covered by the Thoreau conference, however. There are not many other options for accommodation in Reykholt, but if you have a car, there are other options within driving distance, such as Nes, Steindórsstaðir and Hótel Húsafell.
There are many different options for accommodation in Reykjavík, from youth hostels, hotels, Airbnb, and more. Prices vary. If anyone has trouble or questions about staying in Reykjavík, please feel free to email Zachary J. Melton, the employee of the conference (email@example.com).
The symposium will take place May 25 – 27, and for those who want to stay in Iceland a bit longer, we are planning an excursion for May 28 – 29. We will take a charter bus to nearby attractions. Costs for the excursion is forthcoming.
Late May is generally a nice time to visit Iceland. While temperatures are generally a bit warmer, the Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable. It is recommended to bring waterproof coats, shoes, and pants, as it rains often. A heavy winter coat should not be necessary, but again, it is Iceland!
Late May is also a time of the year when we get very little nighttime in Iceland. The sun barely sets, so be prepared for lots of light when you are trying to sleep. The hotel should have curtains that block out the sunlight; however, you may want to bring a sleeping mask just in case.
The Fosshótel and Snorrastofa provide free WiFi. Snorrastofa also provides a library with working spaces.
If anyone needs to print documents, handouts, or notes, speak with the staff of Snorrastofa and they will help accommodate you.
On Reykholt and Snorrastofa in brief
Reykholt in south-western Iceland is a great and unique historic site, which due to Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) is intertwined with the cultural history of Europe. The tiny village was the main residence of this great medieval writer, poet, scholar, and statesman. Important antiquities have been found at the location and they, together with Snorrastofa, the local church, the hotel, and other activities, make Reykholt a vital and vibrant place.
Snorrastofa is an independent research center established in 1995. Its chief task is to instigate and conduct research on the medieval period in general, and Snorri and his works in particular. It´s one of Iceland’s main historic sites, a cultural center past and present. Reykholt has always been associated with scholarly work, but with the establishment of Snorrastofa this status has been secured and expanded.
Snorrastofa has sufficient facilities and infrastructure to host and/or offer a suitable environment for supervising research, and even training of recruited Early-Stage Researchers. It has facilities for conferences, meetings, and accommodation, both in the facilities that opened in the year 2000 and an old schoolhouse. Snorrastofa has also a good library, which specializes in medieval literature, history, and culture.
Dining, tipping & cash
Reykholt does not host a wide range of restaurants, you have the restaurant at the hotel and some snacks and hotdogs at the local gas station. But fortunately, there are high quality restaurants in the neighborhood, both east and west of Reykholt. The nearest are Krauma, which is about 6 km. away (https://www.krauma.is/en), and Hverinn-Restaurant (https://www.hverinn.is/) at the village Kleppjárnsreykir (also 6 km. away). You have also Hótel Húsafell 22 km. away, which has an exclusive restaurant (https://www.husafell.is/gisting/hotel-husafell), and Hamarinn at Hótel Hamar 39 km. away (https://www.icelandairhotels.com/en/restaurants).
As always, to be sure you get to enjoy the tasty food, book a table in advance! Have also in mind, that you don´t have to tip in Iceland, but you can tip if you want. It´s not at all common. All restaurants will take standard credit cards such as VISA, Mastercard, and American Express. ATM machines are not widely available and the nearest to Reykholt is in at Arion banki at Digranesgötu 2 in Borgarnes, 39 km. away.
A final note on alcohol purchased outside of authorized restaurants and pubs: any beverage stronger than 2,25% by volume will only be sold at the
Vinbúðin stores, controlled by the federal government. The nearest is at Borgarbraut 58-60 in Borgarnes, 39 km. away.
Language & Etiquette
Locals are typically friendly and happy to help with directions and suggestions, also speaking good English. Iceland has maybe the lowest crime rate in the world despite what all those Nordic thriller writers claim of our every nook and cranny – and
walking freely and undisturbed on the streets and in its parks and nature reserves is something Iceland´s inhabitants value highly. Normal caution during late nights in the capital Reykjavík is of course advisory, as in any urban cluster.
All normally necessary equipment PowerPoint, sound, etc. will be at hand during the sessions. We recommend that you bring your digital presentation material
on a USB stick or, even better, e-mail it in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. That way, we can use a single computer, and the transitions between papers will hopefully run smoothly. PowerPoint users are advised to pare their files down to screen display mode, and as backup also to save their PowerPoint presentations in PDF format. Please let us know if you require any special equipment for your presentation, and we will do our best to provide it. If you need to use a printer, we can arrange this as well.
If something unforeseen happens you can always call the organizers:
Bergur Þorgeirsson: +354-893-1492 (first choice)
Henrik Otterberg: +46-703-433-313
Zachary J. Melton: +354 776-5212
Sigrún Þormar: +354 847 5581
In case you find yourself in need of replenishing over-the-counter medicine/drugs
or similar, there is a pharmacy in the town Borgarnes 39 km. away. It´s called Lyfja and is located at Borgarbraut 58, tel. +354-437-1168. It´s open between 10 and 18
on weekdays and between 10 and 14 on Saturdays, closed Sundays.). It harbors staff with medical certification as apothecaries: they can thus offer advice and guidance regarding known conditions and remedies. Should you find yourself with uncertain symptoms or more acutely ill, however, we suggest seeking "Heilsugæslustöðin í Borgarnesi" (”The Health Centre in Borgarnes”) at Kveldúlfsgata 4 in Borgarnes to gain access to a certified physician/doctor. The doctors at the "Heilsugæslustöðin í Borgarnesi" are authorized to arrange orders of prescription medication on your behalf, to be presented at the ”Receipt” counter of the abovementioned pharmacy.
In case of medical or other urgent issue, please call 112 to reach police/ambulance/fire brigade 24/7. An operator will quickly harken to your chosen language and assist you with your situation. If an emergency should occur, please notify us at your convenience once help has been secured on your behalf.