Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Andrea R. Harbin
With many enigmatic characters and engaging stories, Norse literature and mythology have had a formative impact on English literature from the early Middle Ages in poetry like the Edda and many Icelandic sagas. A lot of scholarship has been done on Nordic myth and literature, including character studies on many figures, especially Odin and Thor. However, it is difficult to find studies of the figures who make up the "other" in Nordic tales, such as the trickster Loki. While Loki plays a significant role in many tales, his position as the "other" in general Norse mythology and folklore is perhaps what makes him so interesting to study. This othering is directly related to the fact that Loki is described in many tales in a way that is analogous to gender fluidity— that is displaying a male and a female identity at varying times and moments through out the stories, including displaying the ultimate feminine behavior of giving birth to such creatures as Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse, while still being ultimately described with masculine terms. In comparing and contrasting Loki's characterization with other portrayals of masculinity and femininity found in both of the Eddas as well as in works like Njal's Saga, Loki's unique position can be better explored. By studying the literature of the period from this angle, readers could gain not only a wider understanding of the society that created the stories, but also of the influence the stories had on shaping literature through the ages. As neither a god nor a giant in Norse myth, Loki is outside the normative structure; as a figure with female attributes, but referred to with male pronouns, Loki is uniquely positioned as a character through which to view gender constructs in the sagas and folklore.
Munson, Amanda, "Gender, othering, and Loki" (2015). Master's Theses. 25.