TitleSaga Tropes and Motifs
Date/TimeThursday 8 July 2021: 09.00-10.30
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairJón Viðar Sigurðsson, Institutt for arkeologi, konservering og historie, Universitetet i Oslo
Paper 1507-a Iron and the Trǫll: The Appearance of the járnstafr in Old Norse Saga Literature
(Language: English)
Natasha Bradley, Lincoln College, University of Oxford
Index Terms: Folk Studies; Language and Literature - Scandinavian
Paper 1507-b Emotional Climate and Climactic Change: On Some Strategies of Dispute Settlement in the Sagas of Icelanders
(Language: English)
Eugenia Kristina Vorobeva, Jesus College, University of Oxford
Index Terms: Gender Studies; Language and Literature - Scandinavian; Mentalities; Rhetoric
Paper 1507-c Male, Female, and Androgenous Heroism in Old English and Old Norse Literature
(Language: English)
Birgitte Breemerkamp, Independent Scholar, Papendrecht
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Language and Literature - Old English; Language and Literature - Scandinavian
AbstractPaper -a:
Trolls frequently appear in Old Norse sagas carrying a járnstafr (iron-staff). The process of smelting iron in the medieval period carried with it many taboos, both sexual and social. The járnstafr represents a midpoint in this smelting process; it is no longer the raw iron ore, but it is not yet a sword or a piece of agricultural equipment with a defined purpose in society. This sheds light on the liminal space occupied by the trǫll. This paper will add to the scholarly discourse on Old Norse trolls through analysis of the járnstafr, a hitherto neglected aspect of their nature.

Paper -b:
Analysing a series of instances containing a proverbial motif 'Scorn by throwing gold in one's face' and its near-formulaic lexical framing found in some sagas of Icelanders, this paper addresses the interlinked problems of text-performativity, emotional expressivity, and narrative devices used for the concise yet comprehensive depiction of violence, its repercussions within the saga, as well as for the justification of the choice of a particular dispute-processing strategy. By paying attention to the scene-structure and its connection to the broader literary tradition, social practices, and emotional regimes of the time, a new perspective on the complex relationship between gender, power, and regulations as they were seen by the sagamen and their audiences may be revealed.

Paper -c:
Old English and Old Norse literature feature three different strands of heroism: male, female, and androgynous. Male heroism is characterized by physical strength, courage in battle, and undying loyalty to the retainer. Female heroism is characterized by the exercise of power through the use of words and 'peace-weaving'. Robert Morey identifies androgynous heroism in Beowulf. Although Beowulf displays many characteristics of male heroism, he also acts like a 'peace-weaver'. Analysing the heroism of the (female) character Hervör in Heidrek's Saga and the Faroese ballad Arngríms sinir, this paper argues that Hervör's characterisation is another example of androgynous heroism.