The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies is an American scholarly organization that mainly does two things: publishes the journal Scandinavian Studies and organizes the annual SASS conference. This year the conference will be in Salt Lake City, because one of the most active academic departments in the country for Scandinavian Studies is Bringham Young University in Utah. Although the university and most of the professors there are mormon, the conference will not be a non-alcoholic conference. Which is a good thing, since it is really the social aspect of the conference that makes it so great; reconnecting with old class mates and colleagues who are flung across this vast country. It is a small enough community of scholars that we do, generally speaking, get to know one another, especially if one goes to this conference regularly, which is fairly intimate by academic conference standards (smaller than the Saga Conference in my experience). The quality of the papers is rather uneven, and because Scandinavian Studies in the U.S. covers everything from Old Norse mythology to Henning Mankell crime novels, one is usually hard pressed to find a paper that deals with an issue one is genuinely invested in. Rather it is a bunch of things that are good to hear a little bit about, but nothing that will profoundly shape one's academic thinking. 

My friend Amanda always looks forward to SASS much more than I do, because she knows almost everyone in the field and is really excited to see all her friends and colleagues. I know fewer people (unless they went to Berkeley), and tend to find conferences valuable only in so much as I learn something applicable to my own research. But still I guess it will be fun. 

At least I know Ghant will be there, who specializes in Scandinavian Jewish authors, and I can ask him how he has enjoyed having to teach a class about the Vikings. Such is the nature of Scandinavian Studies in the U.S. 


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