Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The mannjafnaðr is a verbal dueling competition containing boasts and insults through which Norse men compare their achievements and exploits against those of other men in bids to prove themselves more honorable in the eyes of the Norse community. This thesis examines the structure, content, and themes of the mannjafnaðr presented in the Morkinskinna, Magnussona, Brennu-Njals, and the Orvar-Oddr sagas as manifestations of the Norse conception of masculinity. My analysis reveals that these encounters are highly structured and provide interactants opportunities to evaluate adherence to culturally dictated strictures of honor – their own and their opponents’. Through a complex discourse structure, Norse men evaluate their honor through five categories of actions: physicality, social duties, sexual irregularity, appearance, and the violation of alimentary taboos. The Norse do not value these categories equally. The frequency of each category’s usage in the verbal confrontation reveals their hierarchy. Analysis of the themes in each mannjafnaðr reveals the debates that Norse men had about the valuation of the types of actions and situations through which they perform their masculinity.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mary J. Brody