Vikings and the Vikings

Essays on Television’s History Channel Series


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About the Book

This essay collection is a wide-ranging exploration of Vikings, the television series that has successfully summoned the historical world of the Norse people for modern audiences to enjoy. From a range of critical viewpoints, these all fresh essays explore the ways in which past and present representations of the Vikings converge in the show’s richly textured dramatization of the rise and fall of Ragnar Loðbrók—and the exploits of his heirs—creating what many viewers label a “true” representation of the age. From the show’s sources in both saga literature and Victorian revival, to its engagement with contemporary concerns regarding gender, race and identity, via setting, sex, society and more, this first book-length study of the History Channel series appeals to fans of the show, Viking enthusiasts, and anyone with an interest in medievalist representation in the 21st century. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Paul Hardwick is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the creative writing programs and teaches medieval literature. He has published widely on the art and literature of the Middle Ages, with a particular focus on misericords and animal iconography, and on medievalism.

Kate Lister is a lecturer in the School of Arts and Communications at Leeds Trinity University. She has published in the medical humanities, material culture, Victorian Studies, and neo-medievalism. She is a columnist for inews and won the Sexual Freedom Publicist of the Year Award in 2017.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Paul Hardwick and Kate Lister
Foreword by Justin Pollard
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 241
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7374-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3843-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Foreword by Justin Pollard 1

Introduction (Paul Hardwick and Kate Lister) 3

The Once and Future Viking: The Popularity of Ragnar Loðbrók in the 18th Century (Stephen Basdeo) 7

Norse Noir: Sagas and Sources (Donna Heddle) 21

Fantasizing History: Anachronism, Creative License and the ­Re-Emergence of an Early Language of Storytelling (Eleanor Chadwick) 36

“What does a man do?” Representing and Performing Masculinity (Katherine J. Lewis) 59

Shieldmaidens in ­Anglo-Saxon England: Historical Possibility or Wishful Thinking? (Shane McLeod) 77

Motherhood in Vikings (Lillian Céspedes González) 93

“Have you done this sort of thing before?” Sexual Violence and Historical Revision in Vikings (Kate Lister and Paul Hardwick) 113

Dialogues with the Dead in Vikings (Howard Williams and Alison Klevnäs) 128

Nature and Supernature (Aleks Pluskowski) 153

Things in Vikings (Alexandra Sanmark and Howard Williams) 173

Ambiguous Images: “Vikingness,” North American White Nationalism and the Threat of Appropriation (Richard Ford Burley) 201

About the Contributors 225

Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

• “All-in-all, this is a well-rounded, well-conceived and very welcome volume that will not only enhance enjoyment and understanding of Vikings itself, but in its wide-randing exploration of issues of portrayal and reception of violent and problematic pasts also holds a great deal of invaluable insight for studies of medievalism…significant and thoroughly enjoyable”—Medievally Speaking

• “These scholarly essays on many aspects of Viking life and society are fascinating in their own right. The fact that they embellish, underscore and often validate my Viking drama is actually deeply moving.”—Michael Hirst, creator of Vikings

• “This is a solid addition to the McFarland canon of offerings. This collection provides a diverse range of approaches for thinking about the academic merits and cultural contributions of the History channel’s Vikings.”—Christina Francis, Bloomsburg University