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Margins, Monsters, Deviants
Alterities in Old Norse Literature and Culture

R. Merkelbach, G. Knight (eds.)
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248 p., 11 b/w ill., 3 b/w tables, 156 x 234 mm, 2020
ISBN: 978-2-503-58586-4
Languages: English
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This anthology explores depictions of alterity, monstrosity and deviation in medieval Icelandic literature, Scandinavian history, and beyond. The authors explore issues of identity, genre, character and text and the interplay between them, challenging long-held perceptions about the lack of ambiguity in Old Norse literature and culture.

Medieval Icelandic literature has often been reduced to the supposedly realist Íslendingasögur and their main protagonists at the expense of other genres and characters. Indeed, such a focus obscures and erases the importance of those beings and narratives that move on the margins of mainstream culture — whether socially, ethnically, ontologically, or textually. This volume aims to offer a new perspective on a variety of theoretical and comparative approaches to explore depictions of alterity, monstrosity, and deviation. Engaging with the interplay of genre, character, text, and culture, and exploring questions of behavioural, socio-cultural, and textual alterity, these contributions examine subjects ranging from the study of fragmented and ‘Othered’ saga narratives, to attitudes towards foreign people and lands, and alterities in mythological and legendary texts. Together the papers effectively challenge long-held perceptions about the lack of ambiguity in medieval Icelandic literature, and offer a far more nuanced understanding of the importance of the ‘Other’ in that society.

Rebecca Merkelbach is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tübingen. Her monograph on social monstrosity in the Sagas of Icelanders has recently been published with Medieval Institute Publications

Gwendolyne Knight received her PhD from Stockholm University. Her dissertation focused on anthropological interpretations of shapeshifting in Northern European contexts.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Old Norse Alterities in Contemporary Context — REBECCA MERKELBACH AND GWENDOLYNE KNIGHT

Categorizing the Werewolf; or, the Peopleness of Shapeshifters — GWENDOLYNE KNIGHT

Taming the Wolf: Reading Bisclaret in Light of Old Norse Kennings — MINJIE SU

Between Myths and Legends: The Guises of Goðmundr of Glæsisvellir — TOM GRANT AND JONATHAN Y. H. HUI

‘The coarsest and worst of the Íslendinga Sagas’: Approaching the Alterity of the ‘Post-Classical’ Sagas of Icelanders — REBECCA MERKELBACH

Considering Otherness on the Page: How Do Lacunae Affect the Way We Interact with Saga Narrative? — JOANNE SHORTT BUTLER

Surface, Rupture and Contextualities: Conflicting Voices of the Iberian ‘Other/s’ in Old Norse Literature — RODERICK W. MCDONALD

Otherness Along the Austrvegr: Cultural Interaction Between the Rus’ and the Turkic Nomads of the Steppe — CSETE KATONA

The Man Who Seemed Like a Troll: Racism in Old Norse Literature — ARNGRÍMUR VÍDALÍN

Afterword: Otherness, Monstrosity and Deviation: The Perpetual Making of Identities — ÁRMANN JAKOBSSON

Interest Classification:
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : genres & specific topics
Historiography (historical writings in the period)
Viking studies
Medieval European history (400-1500) : local & regional history
Scandinavian & Baltic lands

This publication is also distributed by: Proquest e-books, ISD, Marston
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