Auðr/Unnr djúp(a)uðga Ketilsdóttir. Tracing the life and legacy of a female legend through texts

Start - End 
2009 - 2021 (ongoing)
Type 
Research Focus 
Additional tags 
Scandinavian literature
Viking
Image of women

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Abstract

The central topic of this PhD project is the representation of one specific Viking-age woman in medieval and early modern Icelandic literature over a period spanning roughly from the middle of the 12th century to the late 19th century and how cultural memory and 9th century female Viking identity are constructed and transmitted in literary form in Iceland over a longue durée period. To a present-day audience, this Viking-age woman is known by two names. The first one is Auðr  (she is known as Unnr, the famous foremother, in Laxdæla saga). However, various contemporary medieval texts, similar to Laxdæla, paint an alternative picture of Unnr to the one found in Laxdæla. These contradictory medieval interpretations in their turn are reinterpreted and rewritten in early modern Icelandic literature to form new representations of Auðr. The portrait of Unnr, or Auðr as she is called in most of these other sources, is shaped and reshaped over time in Icelandic literature resulting in conflicting interpretations of this one female character.

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