Love Jeffrey Scott, The reception of Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (Université de Cambridge)
Johanna Katrin Friðriksdóttir, Women, bodies, words and power : Women in old Norse literature, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. C. Larrington, Université d’Oxford)
My doctoral thesis (2010) analysed women and power in Old Norse literature. In medieval Icelandic secular prose, female characters function as literary vehicles to engage with some of the most contested values of the period, revealing the preoccupations, desires and anxieties of its authors and audiences; chief amongst these concerns women’s access to and employment of power, and men’s vulnerability. Old Norse sources offer their audiences many discrete and varied female images: women of various social and economic positions and racial origins. Many of them conflict with the stereotypes prevalent in past scholarly discourse which, mainly because of its often selective approach to the extant evidence, has largely failed to perceive the richness and heterogeneity of female images and the multiplicity of their meanings. In this thesis an extensive and diverse gallery of female images from a wide range of secular prose texts will be analysed, demonstrating how varied and complex these female literary characters can be, how they develop over time, and how different genres which existed side by side, as well as individual texts within genres, offer different perspectives on the same problems. Many of the female characters in Old Norse literature can be seen as surprisingly powerful, and the ways in which they gain agency, whether by speech or actions, will be mapped out. These strategies may or may not be socially sanctioned. The thesis explores the roles available to women, how they negotiate these roles within the restraints of patriarchy and when they are seen to transgress normative boundaries, often being depicted as monstrous in these circumstances. The picture which emerges is not a simple dichotomy; it allows for ambiguity and subversion in itself by arguing for the monstrous ‘Other’ as a category which represents human qualities that are rejected and abjected but can never be made to disappear. In short, the thesis deals with questions of female power and uncovers how the texts represent women as agents.
Eriksen Stefka Gueorguieva, Writing and reading in medieval manuscript culture. The transmission of the story of Elye in Old French and Old Norse literary contexts, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. J. G. Jørgensen, Université d’Oslo)
Lanpher Ann, The Problem of Revenge in Medieval Literature: Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Ljósvetninga Saga, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. A. Orchard, Université de Toronto)
This dissertation considers the literary treatment of revenge in medieval England and Iceland. Vengeance and feud were an essential part of these cultures; far from the reckless, impulsive action that the word conjures up in modern minds, revenge was considered both a right and a duty and was legislated and regulated by social norms. It was an important tool for obtaining justice and protecting property, family, and reputation. Accordingly, many medieval literary works seem to accept revenge without question. Many, however, evince a great sensitivity to the ambiguities and paradoxes inherent in an act of revenge. In my study, I consider three works that are emblematic of this responsiveness to and indeed, anxiety about revenge. Chapter one focuses on the Old English poem Beowulf; chapter two moves on to discuss Chaucer’s Reeve’s Tale and Tale of Melibee from the Canterbury Tales; and chapter three examines the Old Icelandic family saga, Ljósvetninga saga. I focus in particular on the treatment of the avenger in each work. The poet or author of each work acknowledges the perspective of the avenger by allowing him to express his motivations, desires, and justifications for revenge in direct speech. Alongside this acknowledgement, however, is the author’s own reflection on the risks, rewards, and repercussions of the avenger’s intentions and actions. The resulting parallel but divergent narratives highlight the multiplicity of viewpoints found in any act of revenge or feud and reveal a fundamental ambivalence about the value, morality, and necessity of revenge. Each of the works I consider resists easy conclusions about revenge in its own context and remains incredibly current in the way it poses challenging questions about what constitutes injury, punishment, justice, and revenge in our own time.
McGuire Erin-Lee Halstad, Manifestations of identity in burial : evidence from Viking-Age graves in the North Atlantic diaspora,Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. C. Batey, Université de Glasgow)
In the early Middle Ages, when settlers began to leave Scandinavia to find new homes for themselves and their families, they began a process that impacted their lives dramatically. Research on modern population movements has demonstrated that migration-induced stresses change the lives of immigrants, and shape how they adapt to their new homes. Migration affects societies and people in a number of ways: it changes family and household organisation; gender relations and roles shift; and general social and cultural structures are altered through the integration of different practices and beliefs. While the identification of the societal changes caused by migration has been the focus of research in a number of fields, it has yet to be directly addressed in archaeology. This thesis seeks to examine the ways in which various social identities were displayed through funerary rituals and the associated material culture in the Norse North Atlantic, and to identify how these changed through the course of migration. The analysis is conducted by comparing burial data collected from two regions of Norway, representing the homeland of the migrants, and Scotland and Iceland, representing two critical destination points. Approximately 500 graves are catalogued and assessed using multivariate statistics. Six case studies, selected from the study areas, are used for comparative purposes. The analysis of the overall data-set and the case study sites indicates that there are key differences between the homeland and the communities of the Viking diaspora. Moreover, the results indicate that the circumstances of migration, such as location, resource availability, and the presence of a local population, results in society changing in different, yet significant, ways: gendered burial practices are altered; new manifestations of traditional rites appear; and migrant identities emerge.
[Source : http://theses.gla.ac.uk/1736/]
McLennan Alistair, Monstrosity in Old English and Old Icelandic literature, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. K. Lowe, Université de Glasgow)
The purpose of this thesis is to examine Old English and Old Icelandic literary examples of monstrosity from a modern theoretical perspective. I examine the processes of monstrous change by which humans can become identified as monsters, focusing on the role played by social and religious pressures. In the first chapter, I outline the aspects of monster theory and medieval thought relevant to the role of society in shaping identity, and the ways in which anti-societal behaviour is identified with monsters and with monstrous change. Chapter two deals more specifically with Old English and Old Icelandic social and religious beliefs as they relate to human and monstrous identity. I also consider the application of generic monster terms in Old English and Old Icelandic. Chapters three to six offer readings of humans and monsters in Old English and Old Icelandic literary texts in cases where a transformation from human to monster occurs or is blocked. Chapter three focuses on Grendel and Heremod in Beowulf and the ways in which extreme forms of anti-societal behaviour are associated with monsters. In chapter four I discuss the influence of religious beliefs and secular behaviour in the context of the transformation of humans into the undead in the Íslendingasögur. In chapter five I consider outlaws and the extent to which criminality can result in monstrous change. I demonstrate that only in the most extreme instances is any question of an outlaw’s humanity raised. Even then, the degree of sympathy or admiration evoked by such legendary outlaws as Grettir, Gísli and Hörðr means that though they are ambiguous in life, they may be redeemed in death. The final chapter explores the threats to human identity represented by the wilderness, with specific references to Guthlac A, Andreas and Bárðar saga and the impact of Christianity on the identity of humans and monsters. I demonstrate that analysis of the social and religious issues in Old English and Old Icelandic literary sources permits nuanced readings of monsters and monstrosity which in turn enriches understanding of the texts in their entirety.
[Source : http://theses.gla.ac.uk/2287/]
Shafer John Douglas, Saga-accounts of Norse far-travellers, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (Université de Durham)
The thesis examines the medieval Icelandic sagas’ many accounts of travel taken by Scandinavian characters to lands in the distant north, south, east and west. These Norse far-travellers have various motivations for their journeys, and particular motivations and motifs are associated with each cardinal direction. Travel to the distant west and north, for example, is typified by commercial motivations: real estate and settlement schemes in the west, trade and tribute-collection in the north. Travel to the distant east frequently takes the form of royal exile, and piety is often the central motivation for journeys to the distant south. Other sorts of narrative patterns are also discussed. It is shown, for example, that there is a sort of “moral geography” evident in the literature, whereby journeys towards “holy” regions (east and south) are more spiritually beneficial than journeys in the opposite directions. The study systematically identifies and discusses saga-accounts of far-travel, surveying the various purposes and themes associated with each of the cardinal directions. The first chapter introduces the material and key terms and provides a survey of the relevant scholarship. The following four chapters cover far-travel in each of the four directions, west, south, east and north respectively. The primary-text examples cited throughout support literary observations, and the conclusions drawn are all focused on literary aspects of the texts. Additionally, some historical observations are occasionally made, though these are never the main focus of the arguments. The sixth and final chapter supplements the concluding sections of these four main chapters and draws additional conclusions. The concluding chapter also offers a diagrammatic representation of the relationships between the various motivations for far-travel in the different cardinal directions.
[Source : http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/286/]