O. Fritiof Ander Lecture: “American Rune Stone— Monument, Memorial and Myth”

On October 7, 2017, I had the privilege of delivering the annual O. Fritiof Ander Lecture on immigration history. The lecture is sponsored by the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center located at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. I was invited by Professor Dag Blanck, the director of the Swenson Center. I have been a fan of Dag’s research on Swedish American identity for many years, but I had the privilege of meeting him at the Society for Advancement of Scandinavian Study conference earlier in 2017.

When Dag gave the introduction before my lecture, he noted that this was the second Ander lecture focused the Kensington Rune Stone. The first was delivered by Professor Henrik Williams from Uppsala University. Henrik is perhaps the world’s leading expert on runic inscriptions. His talk focused on the language of the inscription on the rune stone. His conclusion is that inscription was mostly like produced by residents near Kensington, Minnesota in the late nineteenth century.

The focus of my research is on the reasons that so many have persisted in believing  that the Kensington Rune Stone to be an authentic artifact from the fourteenth century, despite evidence to the contrary. My lecture outlines many of the themes in my book, but ended my talk by discussing ways that I think the history of the Kensington Stone is relevant to contemporary discussions about the increasing popularity of fringe history and its relationship to notions of white supremacy.

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