Love in our time

Disney films over the past ten years have witnessed a remarkable shift, as the ideal of romantic love has been replaced by an ideal of family love. The essay traces the cultural and political ramifications of this shift, to show the importance and potential of studying the history of emotions. It is included as a model essay in the 10th edition of the Norton Sampler.

“Love isn’t what it was: How Disney took to subverting its own romantic ideals,” Aeon (June 2019). Link.

What was an author?

The essay proposes a new framework for the study of premodern authors. Historically, authors have most often been depicted as textual transmitters, not original creators, so a focus on the middle position of premodern authors will lead to a more nuanced, inclusive history of authorship.

“What is an author? Old answers to a new question”, Modern Language Quarterly, vol. 80, no. 2 (June 2019), pp. 113–139. Link. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-7368183

Gilgamesh in Danish

A new Danish translation of Gilgamesh that I published with my father, the Danish poet Morten Søndergaard. The book was nominated for the Weekendavisen Literary Prize and was lauded by one reviewer as “one of those miracles that makes life worth living” (Politiken); another wrote that “this new translation is set to become a classic in this country” (Information). Below, you will find tablet I of the translation.

With Morten Søndergaard, Gilgamesh, 2019, Copenhagen: Gyldendal.

Climate change and history

Danish. The essay situates the current climate crisis in a broader historical context, examining our cultural experience of living through a “historical moment,” as well as the clashing time of climate change activism, which call for both fast-paced and long-sighted action at the same time.

“Klimaforandringerne har en fordel: Det historiske øjeblik tvinger os til at drømme” (“There is an upside to climate change: The historical moment forces us to dream”), Zetland (January 2019). Link.

The uncertainty of death

In a monologue on mortality from the tenth tablet of Gilgamesh, the sage Uta-napishti depicts death through a set of poetic paradoxes: death is both certain, since it cannot be avoided, and uncertain, since we cannot know anything about it. The essay studies how Uta-napishti represents what he claims to be unrepresentable.

“Babylonian perspectives on the uncertainty of death: SB Gilgamesh X 301-321”, Kaskal, vol. 14 (2017), pp. 211–19.

Mess O’Potamia returns

Drawing on a skit from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, the essay argues that the notion of “Mesopotamia” can be used to evade or reconcile the contradictions that surround the modern nation of Iraq. The simple-looking concept of a single Mesopotamia belies a deeper complexity, produced by clashing discourses and historical shifts.

“The return of Mess O’Potamia: Time, space and politics in modern uses of ancient Mesopotamia”, Postcolonial Studies, vol. 19, no. 3 (December 2016), pp. 305–24. Link. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13688790.2016.1264250

Akkadian rhythm

The article (my first) proposes a new understanding of rhythm in Akkadian poetry. Following a suggestion by Wolfram von Soden, it shows that analysing the prosody of Akkadian poems as a sequence of trochees and amphibrachs can reveal a dynamic medium for literary expression.

“Rhythm and expression in Akkadian poetry,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie vol. 104, no. 1 (June 2014), pp. 56–73. Link. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/za-2014-0003