Key note lecturers

International conference: Gateway to Heaven? The Jerusalem Code in Scandinavia, ca 1000-1948

Mary Carruthers 
Erich Maria Remarque Professor em. of Literature at New York University and Quondam Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford, distinguished medievalist.

Her influential books on medieval rhetoric, aesthetics, cognitive theory, and the art of memory have made Carruthers a game changer of international medieval studies. Among her most read and best known publications are The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (1990/2008),The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric and the Making of Images 400–1200 (1998), and The Experience of Beauty in the Middle Ages (2013).

Her Oslo talk is entitled:
The Geometry of Creativity: Jerusalem as a Visionary Tool               

This lecture will explore how architectural patterns based on particular buildings in medieval visionary Jerusalem—in particular the Temple, the Watchtower, and the glorified City—served as basic tools for inventing compositions of meditation and prayer, especially during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. I will investigate the fundamental cognitive insight of medieval compositional practice, that shape and pattern not only help us envision what we already know, but invite us to discover often surprising logical relationships that can provoke our thinking in new ways.


Walter Sparn


Mette Birkedal Bruun
Professor of Church History, Copenhagen University


Anna Bohlin 
Assoc. Prof. of Literature, Stockholm University and University of Bergen.

She has published predominantly on Swedish nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century authors, such as Selma Lagerlöf and Fredrika Bremer. Currently she is working on the research project “Enchanting Nations: Commodity Market, Folklore and Nationalism in Scandinavian Literature 1830–1850” (funded by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Siences 2016–2018).

For our conference, she will give a lecture with the following title:
Nationalizing the Holy Land: The Jerusalem Code in the Scandinavian Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century the Jerusalem code was increasingly put under pressure: re-defined, re-theorized, fragmented and compartmentalized, but in no way abandoned. Rather, in a certain sense the Jerusalem code expanded, legitimizing new areas. In my talk, I will reflect on some aspects of the outcome of the third sub-project of Tracing the Jerusalem Code, covering the period from the late eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth centuries. The research project will show that the story world of Christian salvation history was used to promote precisely those movements of modernity that have later been identified as the causes of secularization and the decline of the impact of Christianity in Scandinavian cultures, such as modern science and democratizing movements leading to the welfare state. I will address how the idea of the kingdom of God on earth was used to legitimize the developing welfare state, how a nationalism of calling – imagining different Scandinavian peoples as chosen by God – took on a new meaning, and how cartography may be regarded as the epicentre for the upheavals splitting the Jerusalem code.