Disability in Medieval Iceland: Some methodological concerns

Christopher Crocker, Yoav Tirosh, Ármann Jakobsson

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter reviews and builds upon recent scholarship in order to discuss some of the key methodological concerns scholars must account for when exploring disability in the context of medieval Icelandic saga writing. It begins by introducing and considering the source value of the medieval sagas, including the modern generic distinctions that scholars have applied to the corpus. Next, the chapter addresses the vital role that attending closely to language and terminology plays in conceptualising disability in the medieval sagas. The final two sections focus on how medieval sagas offer insight on social attitudes toward atypical or nonconformist bodies and minds, on the one hand, and how such phenomena operate within medieval Iceland’s narrative traditions, on the other. Overall, this chapter addresses the value of the medieval Icelandic sagas in helping us gain a better understanding of how physical, mental, and sensory differences were experienced, communicated, represented, and interpreted in medieval Iceland.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Disability throughout History : Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Iceland from Settlement to 1936
Number of pages17
PublisherTaylor and Francis Group
Publication date1 Jan 2021
ISBN (Print)9781032018270
ISBN (Electronic)9781000486674
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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