“Þar skal ek samtengja með Nóreg ok Ísland”
Hreiðarr heimski — a Figure of the Third?
Tuesday February 17, 2015, at 16.30
Within the fields of cultural and literary theory, the so-called “Figure of the Third” has grown to a substantial point of interest in the last ten years. Acting as an agent of mediation and transgression — both being part of and standing outside society at the same time — third figures subvert common dualistic theories of order. Thus, what makes this figure particularly interesting is its essential role in the process of negotiating the role of each individual within the society.
Composed during Sturlungaǫld, a time of crisis, the Icelandic family sagas depict an era when the Icelandic Free State still was intact. However, a considerable number of saga protagonists display a striking non-conformity within the society. These protagonists, in their capacity as third figures, even pose a threat to the balance of the Icelandic Free State. Furthermore, in the shorter þættir protagonists even appear as troublemakers at the Norwegian court. One of them is Hreiðarr heimski, the protagonist of Hreiðars þáttr heimska. How are these figures to be interpreted?
In order to answer this question, the paper will try to examine in which way current cultural theories like “The Figure of the Third” are able to provide new insights into medieval Icelandic literature.
Anita Sauckel is a faculty member in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Greifswald (Germany), where she teaches courses on Old Norse language, literature and culture. Anita studied in Munich (Germany) and Bergen (Norway), and holds a Dr. phil. from the LMU Munich. Her areas of research include Íslendingasögur, narratology, medieval clothing and textiles, and archaeology.