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Title: "Let each man show his manhood" : masculinity and status in medieval Norse and Irish sagas
Author: Wotherspoon, Lisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 1727
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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Over the last few decades there has been a growing trend in scholarship which has focused upon conceptualisations of gender in the representations of characters in medieval narrative literature. Thus far, depictions of women have received a disproportionate amount of attention to the side-lining of the man, although recently the man has slowly been reinstated. However, questions as to the nature of masculinity and what behaviours constituted an appropriate expression of a man's manliness in the sagas have remained. In this dissertation, I first set out to identify a foundation masculinity from which other representations of masculinity can be said to derive. Two behavioural principles are defined (the ability to provide and the ability to protect) before being explored primarily in the representations of kings and martial champions in a selection of medieval Norse and Irish sagas. Discussion of kings focuses upon the literary depictions of Conchobor mac Nessa and Óláfr Haraldsson, while for the martial champions, representations of Cú Chulainn, Caílte mac Rónáin and characters within four Norse sagas (Njáls saga, Fóstbroeðra saga, Bósa saga ok Herrauðs and Ọrvar-Odds saga) are examined. Given that wider gender studies highlights that a number of variables affect depictions of gender in the medieval sagas, a comparative approach allows scope for an exploration into the impact of geographical location on expressions of masculinity. However, the main research question of this dissertation centres upon an inquiry into the role that status plays in depictions of manliness in characters from the saga. While making a judgement upon the degree of influence of this particular factor, other variables affecting the formation of gender – such as textual purpose and genre – are also discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sagas ; Masculinity in literature ; Dominance (Psychology) in literature