Valkyries, Shieldmadens, And Toothless Bitches: Negotiating Gender In Old Norse Literature

Time: 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Contact: Connie Rodriguez, PhD · · 865.2287

Location: Whitney Bank Presentation Room


A Lecture by
Dr. John Sebastian
Vice President for Mission and Ministry
Loyola University

Monday, November 9, 2015
Whitney Bank Presentation Room
Thomas Hall
8 pm
free admission and free parking on campus

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Department of Classical Studies and the New Orleans Society of the Archaeological Institute of America

Actress Katheryn Winnick, who portrays Lagertha on the successful History Channel television series The Vikings, has recently introduced mass audiences to the controversial figure of the shieldmaiden, the legendary warrior-woman of the medieval sagas.  While these fierce fighters are well-attested in Old Norse literature that postdates the Viking Age, the surviving historical and archaeological record provides little certain evidence for the actual existence of the skjaldmær.  What the literary and historical literature do support, however, is a conception of Norse society during the Viking Age (8th-11th centuries CE) and beyond in which women’s deviations from their expected gender roles often follow on men’s failures to perform sufficiently their own masculinity.  This lecture introduces and explores the fluidity of gender categories in Old Norse literary and legal texts through a series of case studies of legendary and historical women.