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Women in Old Norse Society


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A "Choice" Magazine "Outstanding Academic Book for 1996"

Table of Contents

Preface Introduction Chapter One. Gudny Bodvarsdottir and Gudrun Gjukadottir: Nordic-Germanic Continuity Chapter Two. Marriage The Pagan-Christian Conflict Pagan Marriage Christian Marriage Two Marriages Divorce and Widowhood Chapter Three. Reproduction Conception: Theory and Knowledge Heterosexual Lovemaking Sexual Initiative Pregnancy and Birth Paternity Infanticide Baptism Reproduction and Royal Succession Chapter Four. Leisure Work before Leisure Gender Idleness and Sleep Sports and Games Storytelling Drinking and Word Games Emotional Distress Politics Chapter Five. Work Gender Division of Labor Outdoor Work Indoor Work Chapter Six. The Economics of Homespun General Use Coats Cloth as Medium of Exchange Export of Cloth and Coats Measurements Foreign Cloth Conclusion Appendix: Sources Sagas of Icelanders Kings'Sagas Contemporary Sagas Laws Christianity, Historicity, Oral Tradition, and Poststructural Doubt Abbreviations Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Jenny Jochens is Professor of History Emerita at Towson University.


"Jochens's study is a model of interdisciplinary techniques and research; she carefully describes her sources-largely laws and sagas of various types-and their limitations, and then draws from them information, such as the etymology of key words ('wife,' 'husband'), possible only for a linguistic scholar of her caliber."-Choice "Although a number of scholars have begun in recent years to approach Old Norse literature from a feminist perspective, Jenny Jochens has been the only historian in the United States to use gender analysis to study the society represented in that literature... Jochens brings to bear on the Icelandic material a very broad range of knowledge: not only the Old Norse sources in all their complexity but also the body of scholarship in women's history and feminist theory... This book can be read with profit by all medievalists and is essential reading for anyone interested in Old Norse society."-Speculum "A thoroughly rewarding book... The section on economics and production of wadmal and shaggy overcoats deserves close attention as the best treatment in English of an important topic hitherto neglected."-English Historical Review "Jenny Jochens has been one of the most prolific scholars working on the perennially interesting theme of the role played by women and scholars in Old Icelandic history and literature. Jochens presents a wealth of fascinating detail, never before collected to this extent ... offering a full picture of the lives of medieval Icelandic women."-Saga-Book "Well documented and well presented, Women in Old Norse Society covers much material that has not been dealt with in English. It serves the dual purpose of establishing a focus on women and of providing an enormous amount of good cultural history."-Theodore M. Andersson, author of The Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180-1280)

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