Profs & Pints DC: The Secrets of Runes-Door tickets remain available

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Monday, April 15 2024 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.

Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Secrets of Runes,” on the origins, development, and interpretation of the runic script, with Lilla Kopár, runologist and a professor of medieval literature and culture at Catholic University.

The fame of runes outshines that of any other ancient script. They can be found not just on Viking Age rune stones, but on Bilbo’s door and as the Bluetooth logo on your cell phone. Runic script is commonly associated with magic, used by modern practitioners of neopaganism, and in recent decades has captured the imagination of filmmakers and video game designers.

Yet most of us know little about the historical origins of runes and have no clue how to read or use them.

Come to DC’s Penn Social to get schooled on runic script with the help of Lilla Kopár, a veteran scholar of runes who has earned a following among Profs and Pints fans by giving fantastic talks on medieval monsters and Norse mythology. As someone who has carried out extensive field research on runes, published several articles on runic objects, and even appeared on the History Channel commenting on runes in America, she’s exceptionally qualified to introduce you to runology and the fascinating things that runes tell us.

Dr Kopár will discuss the development of runic script from its humble origins on the borders of the Roman Empire in the first or second century CE, through its popularity in the Viking world, to its use and misuse in modern times. She’ll discuss how runes are a set of related alphabets that underwent changes over time and she’ll describe what inspired changes in this writing system and where and how runes were used in the medieval period.

Her richly illustrated talk will highlight some of the most intriguing objects with runic inscriptions, from humble bone fragments to impressive rune stones, and offer insight into the scholarly methods of deciphering and interpreting runic inscriptions. We’ll also look at the function of the runic script from simple practical notes and memorial inscriptions to cipher-runes and magic.

The most fun might be the in-class assignment, which will involve reading a few runic inscriptions and writing your name and other words in runes. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: Part of Codex runicus, a rune manuscript written on animal skin and dating to about 1300. (University of Copenhagen / Wikimedia Commons.)