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Verena Jessica Hoefig

Assistant Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures

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Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley

Research Description

Informed by her training in Scandinavian studies, history, political science, and archaeology, Dr. Höfig's research focuses on the intersection of literature, material culture, and social history in Scandinavia from the Viking Age until today. Her first book Icelandic Origins - A History of Iceland's First Viking Settler examines representations of the figure of the first Icelander, Ingólfr Arnarson, in the context of (national) identity, nationalism, and memory formation from the first literary texts to present-day, post-economic crisis Iceland. Past projects and publications have likewise focused on the political history of early Iceland, or explored the representation animals in Old Norse material and textual culture, sparked by an ongoing interest in animal studies, post-humanism, and the role of non-human agents in early Scandinavian culture. Dr. Höfig's most recent project is dedicated to the symbolic quality of chairs, highseats, highseat pillars, and ceremonial platforms in the pre-Christian North. This study aims to provide a new perspective on the relationship between texts and artifacts in early Scandinavia, along with exploring the literary and art historical background of one of the most ubiquitous but under-studied objects in society: the chair. A second project builds on an interest in medical history and obstetrics in the pre‐Christian North, and discusses an Old High German healing charm, Eddic poetry, and runic inscriptions in Latin as potential birthing aids. Like her other research projects, this paper focuses on the interplay of material and textual artifacts, here seen from the vantage point of medical practices used during childbirth, which involved the recitation of poetry and charms, and the actual, physical application of scripture onto women's bodies.

Specializations / Research Interests

Viking Age and Medieval Scandinavia, Medieval Germany, Cultural Memory, Material Culture, Nationalism, Gender Studies, Post-Humanism and Animal Studies


Verena Höfig received her M.A. degree from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich, Germany and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She also studied at Háskóli Íslands in Reykjavík, Iceland and spent several summers in Uppsala, Sweden and on archaeological field sites in Scandinavia.


Book Contributions

  • Hoefig, Verena. "Foundational Myth in Sturlubók: An Analysis of the Tale of Ingólfr and Hjörleifr." Sturla Þórðarson (1214-1284): Life and Legacy.. Ed. Guðrún Nordal, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, and Sverrir Jakobsson. Leiden: Brill, 2017. 70-82.
  • Hoefig, Verena. "Ursprung einer Gesellschaftselite: Die isländischen goðar." Hoch, Ebenhoch, der Dritte. Elite als Thema skandinavistischer Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft. Ed. Wilhelm Heizmann and Joachim Schiedermair. München: Utz, 2012. 121-168.
  • Hoefig, Verena. "Raben und Rabenvögel in frühen Text- und Bildzeugnissen des Nordens." Tiere in skandinavischer Literatur und Kulturgeschichte. Repräsentationsformen und Zeichenfunktionen. Ed. Annegret Heitmann and Wilhelm Heizmann. Freiburg: Rombach, 2007. 73-94.

Journal Articles

Encyclopedia Entries


  • Hoefig, Verena. Rev. of Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia, ed. Michael T.J. Bintley and Thomas J.T. Williams. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 116.3 (2017): 373-377.
  • Hoefig, Verena. Rev. of Studies in the Transmission and Reception of Old Norse Literature: The Hyperborean Muse in European Culture, ed. Judy Quinn and Adele Cipolla. The Medieval Review (2017): <>.


  • SCAN 251: Viking Mythology
  • SCAN 252: Viking Sagas in Translation
  • SCAN 305/505: Old Norse-Icelandic I
  • SCAN 306/506: Old Norse-Icelandic II
  • SCAN 103: Intermediate Swedish
  • SCAN 470: Imagining the Welfare State