Conduct literature and occasional texts in early modern Iceland: Function and utilization

Prodject leader: Þórunn Sigurðardóttir

The primary aim of this project is to investigate conduct literature and related literary genres, preserved in Icelandic early-modern manuscripts. The goal is to demonstrate what role this literature played in constructing the identities of the country’s élites, in the shaping of their social and cultural image, and how these texts are connected to the structures of social and cultural power in Iceland. Thus, I intend to promote literary works which have, until now, received limited attention in Icelandic cultural history, although they played an important part in shaping our ideas about gender and social relations. The key research questions are: In what kind of environment did ideas of gender, the relations between the sexes, social consciousness, and cultural norms develop? How do these ideas appear in contemporary texts? How do the texts reflect people’s attitudes and ideas in the early modern period? My intention is also to publish a selection of these texts. By promoting these text and placing them in the context of other texts from this period, which has often been interpreted as a time of decline in Icelandic literary history, the literary and cultural history of Iceland will be rewritten to certain extent. Finally, the aim is to highlight the relations between these texts and similar literature in Northern Europe, as a number of critical editions of early-modern European conduct books have appeared in recent years, particularly in Britain and Germany.