Chapter 3 looks at ways in which sagas of Icelanders engage with and explore three broad aspects of identity: nationality (including the importance of feuds in medieval Icelandic law), gender and sexuality, and the distinction between human and non-human (including the supernatural). The sagas thus performed what is sometimes called “ideological work”: they gave expression to the common memories and ideals of a community, and they strengthened bonds within that community through the shared activity of reading the stories or hearing them read. By bringing the sagas into dialogue with approaches associated with the study of other periods and other literatures, this chapter sheds new light on the sagas and on thinking about identity today. Special attention is paid to Hrafnkels saga Freysgoði as a saga illustrating the exploration of different kinds of identity.
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