Beck lecture series

The Beck lecture series at the University of Victoria focuses on various aspects of Icelandic literature and culture. The first "Richard and Margaret Beck Lecture on Icelandic Literature" took place on February 14, 1988. Since then, the University of Victoria has hosted over 80 lectures on a wide range of topics. You can find information about the past lectures in the Archive and other interesting information related to the Margaret Beck Fund under the tabs below.

In the fall of 2016, the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at UVic is offering a Special Topics 1.5 units credit course on Island Literature with a focus on Icelandic Literature: GMST 369 A01, Course Registration Number  (CRN) 11867, on  Mondays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:20 am, in  CLE A207. Instructor Ástráður Eysteinsson (Department of Comparative Literature, University of Iceland).

A lecture by Dr. Margaret Willson, Department of Anthropology ad Canadian Studies Center's Arctic Program at the University of Washington,

"What Defines Survival? The Seawomen of Iceland", Thursday, Nov 03, 2016, Clearihue Building A203, 7:30 p.m.

Margaret Willson has been conducting research with Icelandic seawomen for several years. She is currently Affiliate Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Canadian Studies Center’s Arctic Program at the University of Washington. In Iceland, women have worked at sea for centuries alongside men and alone. They have commanded boats and been lauded for their abilities. But today in Iceland, this history is almost invisible. Why? Margaret Willson explores the vivid history and current situation of these women. Their experiences bring up questions about how we all create history and even our reality.


The second public lecture by Dr. Eysteinsson “Paradise Lost: John Milton, Jón Þorláksson, and Richard Beck” will take place on Sunday, 23 October 2016, at 2:00 p.m. in Clearihue Building, Room A212.

Milton‘s Paradise Lost, in Jón Þorláksson‘s translation (publ. 1828), constitutes a milestone in Icelandic literary history. While Þorláksson‘s contemporaries recognized its significance, literary scholarship has not paid due attention to this cross-cultural achievement – with the exception of Professor Richard Beck, a  “Western Icelander” who himself straddled cultural and linguistic borders in his life and work. This lecture will focus on the triangular relationship of original, translation, and criticism.

Free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.

The first public lecture by Dr. Eysteinsson, whose scholarly fields of interest include modern literature and modernist studies, as well as translation studies – and he is a practicing translator - will be presented on Sunday, September 18, at 2:00 pm, in Clearihue A207:

"Centres and Outer Reaches: Snæfellsjökull as Magnet and its Cultural Manifestations”

Snæfellsjökull glacier, the crown jewel of landscape in western Iceland, assumed a key role as both a physical and cultural landmark already during the island’s medieval settlement period. This talk will trace how its significance has been moulded and “translated” in different ways, from the Saga of Bárður to the works of Jules Verne, Halldór Laxness and other writers, along with oral and mystical traditions and visual manifestations.

Free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.


The Endowment

Richard and Margaret Beck made provision in their wills for a special fund to be established at the University of Victoria to provide public lectures on Icelandic language and literature. Richard passed away on July 23, 1980, and Margaret on December 10, 1985.


Dr. Helga Thorson, University of Victoria (current)
Dr. John Tucker, University of Victoria (emeritus)
Dr. W. D. Valgardson, University of Victoria (emeritus)


, University of Victoria

Comments & Questions

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