Palsson Vidar, Power and Political Communication. Feasting and Gift Giving in Medieval Iceland

Palsson Vidar, Power and Political Communication. Feasting and Gift Giving in Medieval Iceland, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. T. A. Brady, Université de Californie)

Résumé/abstract :

The present study has a double primary aim. Firstly, it seeks to analyze the sociopolitical functionality of feasting and gift giving as modes of political communication in later twelfth- and thirteenth-century Iceland, primarily but not exclusively through its secular prose narratives. Secondly, it aims to place that functionality within the larger framework of the power and politics that shape its applications and perception. Feasts and gifts established friendships. Unlike modern friendship, its medieval namesake was anything but a free and spontaneous practice, and neither were its primary modes and media of expression. None of these elements were the casual business of just anyone. The argumentative structure of the present study aims roughly to correspond to the preliminary and general historiographical sketch with which it opens: while duly emphasizing the contractual functions of demonstrative action, the backbone of traditional scholarship, it also highlights its framework of power, subjectivity, limitations, and ultimate ambiguity, as more recent studies have justifiably urged. It emphasizes action as discourse.


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