Kollegienhaus, Petersplatz 1, Basel, Hörsaal 116
Bureaucracy and Alienation. Some Case Studies from Medieval Norway
Sturla Þórðarson's Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (1260s) has often been interpreted as a record of a reign which was a milestone in the formation of the Norwegian state. But can it also be read as a depiction of a psychological breakthrough: a tentative step on the path towards a world of intransigent bureaucrats, unquestioning adherence to rules, and inescapable systems of social control and information-gathering. In this paper I will consider the ways that Sturla depicts bureaucratic psychology, and consider whether Haconian Norway really was the "well-ordered society" that Sturla (sometimes) portrays.
Richard Cole is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, UCL. From August 2018 he will take up the position of Assistant Professor at Aarhus Universitet, Denmark.
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