Women in Old Norse Society

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Jenny Jochens captures in fascinating detail the lives of women in pagan and early Christian Iceland and Norway—their work, sexual behavior, marriage customs, reproductive practices, familial relations, leisure activities, religious practices, and legal constraints and protections. Women in Old Norse Society places particular emphasis on changing sexual mores and the impact of Christianity as imposed by the clergy and Norwegian kings. It also demonstrates the vital role women played in economic production.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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."—E. Christiansen, 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. Thus the prospect of seeing this theme developed at book length, not once but twice, fills the reader with pleasant anticipation. These two volumes . . . do not disappoint, in that they present a wealth of fascinating detail, never before collected to this extent. These volumes offer a full picture of the lives of medieval Icelandic women, covering 'Marriage', 'Reproduction', 'Leisure', 'Work', and 'The Economics of the Homespun'."—Judith Jesch. Saga-Book vol. 15 #1.

"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, Indiana University and Stanford University

A detailed study of the lives of Christian and Pagan Norse women, teasing out from predominantly male narratives, oral histories, and legal tracts, the vital role women played in the society and the changes imposed on them by Christianity. Jochens (history, Towson State U.) outlines pagan and Christian marriages, divorce and widowhood, sexuality and reproductive issues such as infanticide and royal succession, leisure activities, work, and the economics of cloth making. The appendices discuss the legends from which this history is taken, and the scholarly controversies around the interpretation of "fiction." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801485206
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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