The academic staff of the institute particularly engage in research in the fields of literature, language-courses and teaching, language acquisition and bilingualism, cultural studies, translation studies, and linguistics. There is a constant effort to develop new methods in language teaching and in the mediation of literature and the cultural legacy of a variety of language groups and nations. Many of the institute’s scholars are also involved in translation and dictionary projects, as well as general promotional work to underline the importance of languages in society. The institute’s academic staff are involved in a wide variety of international collaborative projects concerning research, teaching, and the development of innovations in their particular fields.

The connection between languages and culture and the ecology of languages in Western Scandinavia is one of the main research areas that scholars of the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute have concentrated on in recent years. Research topics, research centres, groups and collaborative networks within the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute are as follows:

1. Research Projects:

  • Faroese, Icelandic and Norwegian Language Contact with Danish during the Period 1890-1920.

Participants are scholars from the University of Nuuk, the Greenland Language Committee, the University of Trondheim, the University of Bergen, the University of Oslo, the University of Copenhagen, the University of the Faroe Isles, and the University of Iceland. The research was awarded a grant from Nordplus Sprog og Kultur.

For further information, please contact Auður Hauksdóttir, Professor emerita of Danish, auhau@hi.is.

  • The Language Barometer

The Language Barometer is a synchronic contact study of the Faroese, Greenlandic and Icelandic languages with English and Danish.

For further information, please contact Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Professor of Second Language Acquisition, birnaarn@hi.is.

  • The Representation of Language and Culture in Learning Materials for Foreign and Second Language Learning

The main aim of this project, financially supported by Nordplus Sprog, is to examine the course materials and books used in the teaching of Danish in Iceland, the Faroe Isles, Greenland, and Denmark, as well as the teaching of Swedish in Finland. There is a particular emphasis on investigating the situation in the final year of primary education as well as courses for foreigners in Denmark and special methods of teaching Swedish (sprogbad) to young children in Finland. The participating scholars come from universities in Iceland, Denmark, Finland and the Faroe Isles and are greatly assisted by primary school teachers in all five countries.

For further information, please contact Þórhildur Oddsdóttir, Adjunct in Danish, thorhild@hi.is.

  • Scotland in the North: Arctic Encounters in Scottish Literature.

The goal of this project is to provide new insights and knowledge as to how the longstanding ties between Scotland and the Arctic have informed Scottish literary culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. The project is concerned with shedding light on how various Scottish writers engage with whaling and exploration in the Arctic, as well as analysing how encounters with the indigenous peoples of the region are represented. Such work seems both timely and important in the light of current Scottish political interests in the Arctic.

For further information, please contact Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir, Senior Lecturer in English, ingibjoa@hi.is.

  • The Translation and Reception of French Narrative Literature in Iceland

This project will study the history of Icelandic translations of French narrative literature from medieval times until the present day. The aim is to create an overview of the reception of such French works in Iceland. The translators’ approaches and methods will be examined in order to analyse and evaluate the influence of such translations within Iceland’s own literary history and culture.

For further information, please contact Ásdís R. Magnúsdóttir, Professor of French, asdisrm@hi.is.

  • Democratic Constitutional Design: Negotiating Civic Engagement, Institutional Control and the Common Good.

This project examines the lessons about democratic constitutional design that can be drawn from the Icelandic constitutional process that began in 2010. It studies the work of the Constitutional Council, which submitted a proposal for a new constitution to the Icelandic Parliament in 2011, and explores and monitors current efforts at constitutional revision based on the Prime Minister’s commitment to a complete a revision of the constitution in 2018–2025. It also investigates the underpinnings of these efforts in current democratic theory.

For further information, please contact Jón Ólafsson, Professor of Cultural Studies, jonolafs@hi.is. The project also has its own websites: constitution.hi.is and stjornarskra.hi.is

  • The Art of Nordic Colonialism 

The Art of Nordic Colonialism unites academics, exhibition holders and artists working in the visual arts connected to Nordic colonial projects in the Caribbean Islands, West Africa, India, Greenland, Iceland and Lapland. This research project is a combined examination and discussion of the role colonialism has played in the creation and reception of art and art history throughout a wide area of Scandinavia and their former colonies from 1600 until the present time. PI is Mathias Danbolt, Senior Lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.  Ath: Ég veit ekki hvað PI er á dönsku.

For further information, please contact Ann-Sofie Nielsen Gremaud, Lecturer in Danish, gremaud@hi.is

  • UniStart Deutsch@NBL

UniStart Deutsch@NBL is an international research project that began in 2019 in universities in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. The aim of the project is to record and examine the attitudes of university students toward the German language, why they choose to learn it, and to evaluate their linguistic ability when they begin their course of studies in German.

For further information, please contact Vaness Isenann, Adjunct Lecturer in German vmi@hi.is  

  • Staging Globalization in Seventeenth-Century French TheaterThis project examines how early modern French playwrights staged contemporaneous European encounters with distant peoples and the juridical issues regarding borders, conquest and slavery that arose from these cross-cultural dealings.

For further information, please contact Toby Erik Wikström, Project Manager at the Graduate School and Research Specialist at the Centre for Research in the Humanities (tew@hi.is).

2. Research Centres

  • RIKK – Institute for Gender, Equality and Difference

This is a leading institute in the field of women’s, gender and equality research in Iceland. Founded in 1991, RIKK promotes interdisciplinary gender research and the dissemination of its findings through courses, lectures, symposia, conferences, and publications.

For further information, please contact Irma Erlingsdóttir, Senior Lecturer in French, irma@hi.is or the centre website at: rikk.hi.is/en/.

  • Classical Studies Centre

Classical Studies Centre is a fulcrum for research into classical studies and for multidisciplinary collaboration in projects concerning related subjects and the dissemination of classical studies.

For further information, please contact Geir Þórarinn Þórarinsson, Adjunct in Greek and Latin, gtt@hi.is.

  • RÍM – Research Group on Language Acquisition.

The Research Group on Language Acquisition is under the auspices of the University of Iceland and is affiliated to the School of Humanities. Its research is based on collaboration with the Institute of Linguistics, the Vigdís Institute for Foreign Languages, the School of Humanities Language Centre, and the Arni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies.

For further information, please contact Eyjólfur Már Sigurðsson, director of the School of Humanities Language Centre, ems@hi.is.

  • STUTT – Research Group in Short Fiction and Shorter Texts.

The group’s aim is to provide a platform for disseminating research on the writing and translation of shorter texts by scholars and translators from many diverse backgrounds. Shorter texts include short stories, anecdotes, fairy tales, folk tales, fables, mini-sagas, micro-fiction, extracts, poetry, short narratives and essays.

For further information, please contact Kristín Guðrún Jónsdóttir, Senior Lecturer in Spanish, krjons@hi.is.

  • EDDA Research Centre

This is an interdisciplinary research centre in critical contemporary research with special emphasis on (in)equality and difference, societal and political ruptures; the welfare state; security and development.

For further information, please contact Irma Erlingsdóttir, Senior Lecturer in French, irma@hi.is or the centre’s website at: edda.hi.is.

3. Research Networks or Communities

  • PRISEAL

PRISEAL is an international community for those publishing and presenting research internationally with special issues concerning speakers of English as an additional language, on the dissemination of such research, and their contribution to knowledge. PRISEAL conferences are held every third year, most recently at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute for Foreign Languages. A book of selected papers from the conference have been published, see here.

For further information, please contact Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Professor of Second Language Acquisition, birnaarn@hi.is.

  • Roma in the Centre

Roma in the Centre is a research network of scholars involved in the study of the literature, language, culture and social issues of the Romani/Gypsy peoples around the whole world. Among projects supported by the network are conferences and the publication of the collection of small stories Sunnudagsmatur og fleiri sögur Rómafólks [Sunday meal and Other Stories of Roma Folk] by the University of Iceland Press and The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute in 2020.

For further information, please contact Sofiya Zahova, Research Scholar in the Literature and Culture of the Roma, zahova@hi.is.

  • WILA Workshop on Heritage Languages in the Americas

This international workshop on heritage languages in the Americas began with a conference in Norway in 2010 and has since continued to hold conferences every year, alternating between various countries in Europe and the Americas. The workshop has published an annual collection of conference papers since 2015.

For further information, please contact Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Professor of Second Language Acquisition, birnaarn@hi.is.

Further information about the research projects of members of the Vigdís International Centre can be found on their home pages.

Strengthening and Diversifying Research

We at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute intend to strengthen and diversify research so as to become a leading participant in scholarly discussion on languages, language teaching and cultural studies. We will seek new and demanding subjects, both within Iceland itself and through international co-operation with other institutes. Research in the fields of literature and cultural studies can increase our knowledge of trends and attitudes in other cultural domains and make it easier for us Icelanders to understand our own literature and cultural environment.

With research and increased knowledge in linguistics the foundations can be laid for specific scholarly analyses of the special features of foreign languages, which can then be employed in many fields: in teaching, in comparisons with Icelandic, in language proficiency, and in translation.

Translation studies are the key to our communicating at all levels with foreign cultural domains. As a sparsely populated nation in a globalised community it is necessary for us to cultivate knowledge of exactly where these cultural domains meet, in translation, a skill, which grows in importance with every passing year. Translation is one of the most active means possible of cultivating linguistic knowledge and skills.

More and more Icelanders need a competence in foreign languages as an individual’s progress at college or at work can be determined by his/her knowledge of a foreign language. The number of foreigners who wish to learn Icelandic grows steadily every year and they are the bearers of Icelandic culture throughout the rest of the world. In a globalised world there is thus an urgent need to increase research in the teaching of foreign languages and the teaching of Icelandic as a foreign language.

Languages, Industry and Trade

The value of language proficiency for industry and trade is unequivocable. Tourism has become one of the most important means of employment in Iceland, and there has been increased specialisation in exports due to the emergence of high-technology companies; cultural exchanges are becoming increasingly varied, and Icelandic companies are actively seeking more and more foreign markets. Import companies also need to be able to comply with the demands of a competitive market by providing accurate information to customers and consumers. All this calls for increased research into the role of languages and language proficiency in industry and trade.

Language and Culture Contact in the West-Nordic Region

The Research Network of Language and Culture Contact in the West-Nordic Region, or West-Nordic Network, for short, is a group of researchers interested in the Western Nordic Region (i.e. the west coast of Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland), focusing on language and culture contact (inside and outside) in this region, including literature, linguistics and language learning.

West-Nordic Network Website

Language Consultancy and Services

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute provides a consultancy in language research and actively disseminates knowledge of its various academic fields, through specialized services in connection with language teaching, linguistics, language use, translations and cultural studies – subjects which can make a difference in terms of progress and success for individuals, institutes and companies in our modern multinational world.

Lectures, Seminars and Conferences

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute provides lectures by specialists, seminars, and conferences on its various areas of expertise. Conferences have already been held on poetry translation, language proficiency, and the language and culture of the Faeroe Isles. Seminars are frequently held on foreign languages and trade and industry, and the Institute’s scholars travel all over the world to attend international conferences in their fields of specialization. During term-time there is a regular linguistics seminar and many Icelandic and foreign scholars have presented papers in this forum. Further information on the lectures, seminars, and conferences held by the Institute can be found on this website.

Current Projects

Scholars at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute are currently involved in a number of research projects, covering a wide variety of subjects, including the following:

  • Use of computers and electronic databases in language teaching and linguistic research.
  • Use and development of translation and bilingual databases.
  • Research on Spanish language and literature.
  • British and American sport literature.
  • Canadian literature, especially the work of authors of Icelandic descent.
  • Development of new teaching methods in German.
  • Women’s fiction and identity in Latin-American literature.
  • Problems of English pronunciation for Icelanders.
  • Spanish-Icelandic dictionary.
  • Proficiency in Danish of Icelandic students doing postgraduate studies in Denmark.
  • Linguistics.
  • Swedish by Distance Learning.
  • Research on British drama.
  • Research on the role of Icelandic/Old Norse literature in the British and German Enlightenment.
  • Research into media translations in Iceland.
  • Translation of Old Norse sagas into French.
  • Cultural studies and cultural difference in Scandinavian literature.
  • Language skills of Icelandic scholars from the Reformation until the 19th century.
  • Language proficiency in trade and industry.

Future Projects

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute is keen to pursue the following goals:

  • To increase significantly language research.
  • To establish a powerful research fund for the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute.
  • To increase and strengthen postgraduate courses in foreign languages and translation.
  • To improve facilities for language research.
  • To sponsor exceptional students on postgraduate courses in foreign languages.
  • To increase international relations by inviting leading scholars in the Institute’s fields of interest from all around the world.
  • To support informed discussion in the Institute’s scholarly fields through lectures, seminars and conferences.
  • To hold presentations and exhibitions of the Institute’s work in order to increase co-operation with foreign universities and find sponsors who wish to support the Institute’s programmes.
  • To increase the publication of academic works and publish a journal covering the Institute’s fields of study and research.
  • To develop new language teaching methods.
X