© 2013

Women in Old Norse Literature

Bodies, Words, and Power

  • Authors

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 1-13
  3. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 15-45
  4. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 47-58
  5. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 59-77
  6. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 79-105
  7. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 107-133
  8. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir
    Pages 135-138
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 139-192

About this book


Old Norse texts offer different ideas about what it is to be female, presenting women in diverse social and economic positions. This book analyzes female characters in medieval Icelandic saga literature, and demonstrates how they engaged with some of the most contested values of the period, revealing the anxieties of both the authors and audiences.


medieval Icelandic Old Norse texts women character English literature literature Medieval Literature Middle Ages

About the authors

Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, Iceland. She has published several articles on Old Norse-Icelandic prose and poetry.

Bibliographic information


“With Women in Old Norse Literature: Bodies, Words, and Power, Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir offers a high-quality piece of research, especially as regards its detailed and accurate close reading of the Old Norse text sources. This monograph will certainly stimulate much discussion on female characters in Old Norse literature, and forthcoming research will have to measure up to this definitive work.” (Lukas Rösli, Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 88 (2), 2016)

"Fridriksdóttir is to be thanked for offering saga narratives not solely as engines of social control nor simply as exercises in imaginative empowerment, but rather as open, unpredictable worlds, created by their authors not so much to pursue a predetermined agenda as to entertain and excite reflection on the part of their audiences . . . Women in Old Norse Literature: Bodies, Words, and Power promises valuable future work on the implications of these sagas for understanding this society in greater depth, especially in how the various roles of both men and women were imagined in the evolving tension between traditional Norse forms of thought and feeling and the 'dominant paradigms' of medieval Christian culture." - The Medieval Review

"In her concluding chapter, Fridriksdóttir reminds us of the book's goals: to consider other types of female characters and genres; to analyze the relationship between gender and power across genres; and to challenge the stereotype of women wielding power as violent only. Women in Old Norse Literature does all of this and more, and Fridriksdóttir has made a wonderful contribution to scholarship." - Speculum