Academic Work

This portion of the site is devoted to chronicling the more interesting of my academic pursuits. Check out the descriptions of the papers below and grab PDF files to browse or read to the contentment of your inner literary nerd.

Robot Conciousness in Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation

  • I wrote this in my first semester at college for a class on consciousness. My intellectual obsession with machine intelligence eventually led me to embrace atheistic materialism. Not my best work, but the concept of applying the Turing Test a fictional character is pretty interesting.

A Look at Open Source Software

  • A final paper from Spring ’06 (the date in the .pdf is from the re-compiled version that I posted today). The goal of the class was to examine our concepts of knowledge and information throughout history. I wrote on open source as a new way of categorizing and sharing information.

The Ethics of Brotherhood in Gisli Sursson’s Saga

  • A look at kinship in one of my favorite of the Icelandic outlaw sagas. Written for a class on Icelandic Sagas from Fall ’06.

Gisli and Gunnar: Outlaw Heroes

  • Comparing Gisli (of his eponymous saga) with Gunnar Hamundarson of Njal’s Saga, also from Fall ’06.

Skarp-Hedin and the Relationship Between Father and Son in Njal’s Saga

  • Examining a core relationship in Njal’s Saga. My final paper for the Icelandic Saga class.

Bone: Jeff Smith’s Cartoon Epic

  • Final paper from a course about North American comics from Spring ’07.

A Survey of Architecture in Comics

  • A journaling project from an architecture course that I took in Fall ’07. Unfortunately no images in this version of the document.

Beowulf and Grettir: Comparison and Coincidence

  • My final paper for a seminar on Beowulf in Fall ’07. This paper looks at possible connections between the title character of the Anglo-Saxon poem and Grettir Asmundarson of the Icelandic Grettir’s Saga.

Excerpt from Doom of the Gods

  • My own translation from the Old Norse Prose Edda. The excerpt discusses Ragnarok, the end of the Norse world. A final project for a course in Old Norse that I took in Fall ’07.

Current Independent Study

In addition to these completed papers, I am currently working on an independent study to explore the legacy of bear shamanism in medieval Germanic literature. The proposal that I submitted for the study is below:

German scholar Friedrich Panzer caused a stir in 1910 when he published a paper linking the Old English poem Beowulf and the Icelandic Grettis saga with a very old folktale motif, which he called the “The Bear’s Son Tale.” The motif features a hero with some sort of bear ancestry going on adventures, killing demons, rescuing princesses, collecting large stores of treasure, and enacting revenge on traitorous companions. There are several characters in Old English and Norse literature who possess explicitly ursine attributes and whose stories have been cited by scholars over the years to fit this “Bear’s Son” motif. This independent study will attempt a comprehensive investigation of the scholarship on bear-themed folktales and their connection to Germanic literature in the Middle Ages, while looking at the roots of such folktales in early shamanistic religions of the far North. The semester-long study will culminate in an original academic paper around twenty pages in length.

I will post notes and ongoing thoughts as I pursuing this interesting subject. The final paper may appear here as well.


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