Tartu 2008

Charms / Begegnungssegen

May 9th 2008, Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu

Organised by the Committee on Charms, Charmers and Charming in collaboration with the Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, and Department of Folklore, Estonian Literary Museum.

Encounter Charm programme:


Encounter Charm abstracts:


10.00-10.15 Opening
10.15-10.45 Jonathan Roper (Sheffield) The Concept of Begegnungssegen and its Applicability to English Narrative Charms
10.45-11.15 Éva Pócs (Budapest) Hungarian Encounter Charms between East and West
11.15-11.45 Andrey Toporkov (Moscow) Encounter Charms in Russian Tradition
12.15-12.45 Daiva Vaitkevic(iene. (Vilnius) Quarrel between Gods: a Dialogue in Charms and Legends
12.45-13.15 Toms K,encis (Riga) Space Dispositions in Latvian Encounter Charms
15.15.-15.45 Mare Kõiva (Tartu) Estonian Encounter Charms
15.45-16.15 Emanuela Timotin (Bucharest) Malefic Demons in the Romanian Historiolae
16.15-16.45 Lea T. Olsan (Cambridge) The Earliest Forms of the St. Peter Charm for Toothache
17.15-17.45 Vladimir Klyaus (Moscow) The Russian Traditional Spells in Northern China Nowadays
17.45-18.15 Sadhana Naithani (Delhi) When Charms Encounter 'Karma' (Human Endeavour)
18.15-18.45 Mihály Hoppál (Budapest) Shamanic Song as Charming Prayer

Many narrative charms feature an encounter between the chief protagonist of the historiola and another key figure. These may be encounters with a supernatural helper or encounters with an evil power. The great charms scholar Ferdinand Ohrt termed such charms 'Begegnungssegen' in a series of influential articles and in his entry on 'Segen' in the Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens. But little concentrated work has been done on encounter charms since then - a situation this seminar intends to remedy.

Charms scholars at dinner: Emanuela Timotin (back),
Peter Murray Jones, Lea Olsan, Jonathan Roper, Eva Pócs.

This seminar was dedicated to addressing encounter charms across cultures and over time, and papers were requested dealing with topics such as:

  • history of particular types of encounter charms,
  • the genre characteristics of historiolas,
  • the role of protagonists, antagonists and helpers in historiolas,
  • the nature of encounters and dialogues in charms,
  • the links (or lack of links) between the historiola and the remainder of the charm,
  • the connections of encounter charms with other charm types,
  • the relationship between charms and other genres,
  • and other related themes.