Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language


The article explores the Norwegian ‘national ballad’ Draumkvæde (the Dream Song) in Maren Ramskeid’s version. This work has traditionally been interpreted as a folklore adaptation of medieval visionary literature such as the Vision of Tundale, related to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. The ballad, however, lacks demons and devils and infernal torture – it is even almost completely devoid of human beings. Instead it tells of a corporeal encounter with an imagined natural landscape. This dreamscape of the song is intimately intertwined with the local terrain of the singer. Maren Ramskeid engaged her own landscape in Telemark, the article argues, to decentre the canonized Christian text and the cultivated Christian building. Speaking an oral outdoor theology, she destabilized the heaven–hell dualism and envisioned a mythological landscape where nature turns dangerously and painfully on those who do not abide by its unwritten norms, but where all are eventually saved by a final judgement in a place called Broksvalin.

Author Biography

Thomas Arentzen received his PhD at Lund University (2014) and was appointed Reader in Church History at the same institution in 2018. During the academic year 2018-19 he was a Fellow in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC. Currently he works as Researcher at Uppsala University, where he conducts the project Beyond the Garden: An Ecocritical Approach to Early Byzantine Christianity, funded by the Swedish Research Council. His research focuses on Christian hymns and hagiography in relation to corporeality and ecology. Publications include Byzantine Tree Life: Christianity and the Arboreal Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming; coauthored with Virginia Burrus, & Glenn Peers); The Virgin in Song: Mary and the Poetry of Romanos the Melodist (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), and The Reception of the Virgin in Byzantium: Marian Narratives in Texts and Images (Cambridge University Press, 2019, coedited with Mary B. Cunningham).


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