Medieval Masculinities : The Viking Age

1833 Words Oct 1st, 2015 8 Pages
The Scandinavian Late Iron Age, popularly known as the Viking Age, is often represented by pre 1960’s archeology as deeply and inherently male, with male aggressiveness as the ideal presented to the public, leaving little room for alternative gender roles in the popular imagination. However, Dr. Lisa Bitel of the University of Southern California stated,
“Women participated more fully and freely in both the settling of Iceland and in its written history than in any other migration of peoples within medieval Europe. …Some Scandinavianists have argued that in Iceland Europeans had a chance to experiment with social and political organizations unencumbered by the customs of the homeland; other scholars believe, however, that the Icelanders brought with them to the new land the customs of the old, including gender relations.”

In 1990, Fordham University hosted a conference on gender and medieval society, focusing on the issue of feminist studies as a frame from which medieval ideas of “manhood” are approached. In 1994, Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages was published as a result of that conference. A number of researchers contributed essays on the changes in definitions of masculinity during the medieval period, and looking at masculinity as another lens through which gender is to be approached, rather than a normative state to compare against in relating the lives of women in society. The focus was on demonstrating that the hegemonic…

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