Author Spotlight: Rowdy Geirsson

In the Author Spotlight this week, let's learn more about one of our recent authors: Rowdy Geirsson.

I contributed an article to issue 9 of Medieval World: Culture & Conflict, titled “Glory in Death: Sweden's Magnificent Pre-Viking Graves” all about the massive pagan burial mounds in the heart of Sweden’s historic core from the pre-Viking era. Uppsala is the most famous of these, but the relics found at Valsgärde and Vendel have done a lot to inform our understanding of the material culture of the place and time. Compared to that of Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, Sweden’s Viking and pre-Viking past tends to be underrepresented in English-language outlets, so I appreciated the opportunity to spread the word about the Svear through my contribution to the magazine.

There is not much available in English about the pre-Viking period of Scandinavia’s history in general, but for anyone interested in reading up on the Vikings, Neil Price’s Children of Ash and Elm and John Haywood’s Northmen make a great pairing. Both books are well-written, engaging, and recent, so most of the latest discoveries are covered in these studies. 


Price’s book focuses mostly on the culture of Viking Age Scandinavians, while Haywood’s focuses mostly on the historical events and movements associated with them. Presently, I am reading something completely different — I just started Gabriel Krauze’s Who They Was, and I plan to start soon Marc Morris’ The Anglo-Saxons and Jonathan Lindström’s Sveriges långa historia


My interests and research efforts are predominately focused on the history and culture of Scandinavia itself as a region rather than the specific time period of the Middle Ages, though, of course, that umbrella very clearly encompasses the Viking Age and the centuries before it in the Nordic region. Sweden is the focal point for me, and my research tends to focus on “place” — be that a city/town, landscape, building, or the people responsible for “place-making.” 


I lived in Sweden thanks to a fellowship provided by the American-Scandinavian Foundation, which allowed me to gain a high degree of proficiency in Swedish. That experience also provided a doorway into understanding the aspects of Scandinavian history and culture that tend to go unobserved outside the region.


Site visits and archival research form a big part of the process for me. I’ve published history articles across a small smattering of publications — The Journal of Urban Design, Scandinavian Review, Viking Magazine, and now Medieval World: Culture & Conflict.

Most of my writing, however, tends to be of a less serious variety. I have written informative albeit highly quirky history and mythology articles for the McSweeney’s humor website since 2010, and fictitious articles for a handful of other humor websites as well. I’ve released two books, Norse Mythology for Bostonians and The Scandinavian Aggressors, and a third, The Impudent Edda, is set for release in late November of this year. 


I skulk around the world-wound-web on Twitter/X at @RGeirsson and Instagram at @rowdygeirsson

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