Title page for ETD etd-11022010-202656

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Broussard, Jonathan Mark
Author's Email Address jbrou68@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-11022010-202656
Title Waging Word Wars: A Discourse Analysis of the Patterns of Norse Masculinity Presented through Mannjafnaor in the Icelandic Sagas
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mary J. Brody Committee Chair
Carolyn Ware Committee Member
Elisabeth Oliver Committee Member
Helen Regis Committee Member
  • Icelandic Sagas
  • Norse
  • Verbal Duel
  • Masculinity
  • mannjafnađr
Date of Defense 2010-05-07
Availability unrestricted
The mannjafnađr is a verbal dueling competition containing boasts and insults through which Norse men compare their achievements and exploits against those of other men in bids to prove themselves more honorable in the eyes of the Norse community. This thesis examines the structure, content, and themes of the mannjafnađr presented in the Morkinskinna, Magnussona, Brennu-Njals, and the Orvar-Oddr sagas as manifestations of the Norse conception of masculinity. My analysis reveals that these encounters are highly structured and provide interactants opportunities to evaluate adherence to culturally dictated strictures of honor – their own and their opponents’. Through a complex discourse structure, Norse men evaluate their honor through five categories of actions: physicality, social duties, sexual irregularity, appearance, and the violation of alimentary taboos. The Norse do not value these categories equally. The frequency of each category’s usage in the verbal confrontation reveals their hierarchy. Analysis of the themes in each mannjafnađr reveals the debates that Norse men had about the valuation of the types of actions and situations through which they perform their masculinity.
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