Many Humanities scholars seem to have become increasingly pessimistic due to a lack of success in their efforts to be recognized as a serious player next to their science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) colleagues. This appears to be the result of a profound uncertainty in the self-perception of individual disciplines within the Humanities regarding their role both in academia and society. This ambiguity, not least, has its roots in their own history, which often appears as an interwoven texture of conflicting opinions. Taking a stance on the current and future role of the Humanities in general, and individual disciplines in particular thus asks for increased engagement with their own past, i.e., histories of scholarship, which are contingent on societal and political contexts. This article’s focus is on a case study from the field of Old Norse Studies. In the face of the rise of populism and nationalism in our days, Old Norse Studies, with their focus on a ‘Germanic’ past, have a special obligation to address societal challenges. The article argues for the public engagement with the histories of individual disciplines to strengthen scholarly credibility in the face of public opinion and to overcome trenches which hamper attempts at uniting Humanities experts and regaining distinct social relevance.
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