Dissertation Title:

When Bragi Loves Iðunn: The Power of Story to Alter Power Dynamics Explored Through Archetypal Gender Tropes Within Contemporary Renderings of the Norse Pantheon, and Retellings of “Völuspá”


Sea Gabriel

Date, Time & Place:

August 25, 2021 at 11:00 am


This dissertation argues that stories co-create culture and gird cultural mythology, the storied spell cast over groups to enable cooperation: the superpower of humanity. The current mythological foundation is casting a curse of division that harms everyone, individually and communally, regardless of gender, as each person requires the gifts of both the archetypal masculine and archetypal feminine to thrive. Yet, through the current patriarchal mythology, the archetypal masculine is exalted and the archetypal feminine is degraded, while the archetypal gender bender is dismissed. This creates and maintains dichotomous stereotypes that devalue qualities requisite to every individual’s health and wellbeing. The trickster archetype, representing the gender-bender, usually goes unmentioned. Misofemy, hatred of the archetypal feminine potential, is corroborated through unrealistic expectations based on a conflation of the archetypal feminine and archetypal mother. Storied archetypal gender inequity is additionally illustrated through the trickster, who, arising only in patriarchy, embodies the archetypal feminine on a hostile mythological stage; a narrative trickster has a masculine body containing a feminine heart. When the Poetic Edda’s “Völuspá,” a prophetic tale that gives an overview of the entirety of the myths, is inspected, two methods of increasing the value gap between binary archetypal gender constructs are revealed: the symbolic annihilation of identified females, who are omitted or demoted into relational characters—support structures with no independent motives or abilities—and the increased vilification of the trickster, who is publicly tortured and cyclically decimated, illustrating the repercussions of expressing the archetypal feminine. The spells that stories cast can as easily illuminate as obfuscate, unite as divide, heal as kill. The final portion of this dissertation is a production piece casting a storied spell of cooperation and repair.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Evans Lansing Smith
  • Reader: Dr. Mary Wood
  • External Reader: Margaret Atwood, M.A.
  • Keywords: Archetypal, Gender, Storytelling, Eddic Poetry, Trickster, Norse, Power, ørlog, Wyrd, Galdr