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Analysis of “Óðinn: A Queer týr?”

Analysis of “Óðinn: A Queer týr? A Study of Óðinn’s Function as a Queer Deity in Iron Age Scandinavia,” a Master’s Thesis by Amy Franks

First Chapter Analysis
Her comparison between mana and hamingja is a pretty big stretch, considering they are vastly different concepts from two very different cultures. The way she tries to tie mana into the spectrum between gods and humans makes no sense, especially when mana has nothing to do with Scandinavian religion. Here, she really should have worked harder to understand the concepts of wyrd and hamingja.

Second Chapter Analysis
She is using queer theory, which is a particular theoretical lens. This, by itself, is not problematic. She is also correct in stating that queer theory is “inherently distrustful of categories.” It is well-known within sociology that gender is a social and historical construct, so this argument on its own is fine. Her citing Ghisleni’s argument to say that studying third genders/sexes someone ignores the nature of personhood is a huge stretch, and it also makes me question how well she vetted her own sources. That argument is logically fallacious from the beginning.

I’ll agree that analyzing Odin through his semantic center is a good methodology, and I can buy that Odin’s semantic center is that of knowledge and its acquisition. Her conclusion is that gender was never a key part of his semantic center, which is an accurate statement. The insertion of her personal belief that he has elements of queerness does not really belong in an academic paper.

Third Chapter Analysis
One of her arguments in the conclusion of this chapter, that warrior groups don’t exist in a male vacuum, is a solid argument. But the evidence she offers is incredibly weak and reaching. As for her main argument, that battle-oriented spirits like the einherjar/valkyrjur are linked to Odin’s presence and gender is problematic only because of the “and gender.” Obviously, battle-oriented spirits are linked to Odin’s presence. His gender has nothing to do with his orientation to battle or anything else, generally speaking.

Overall Analysis
I mean, I honestly feel like this entire thesis rests on a very shaky assumption that gods have a gender to begin with rather than being ascribed a gender. Considering that the gods themselves are not beholden to human concepts like morality, it makes no sense to make an argument based on the concept that a god has a gender in the first place. In addition to that, stating that a god’s perceived gender puts that deity into a particular gender/sexual category is another fundamental misunderstanding about the separation that exists between the nature of the gods and the nature of human beings.

In conclusion? This is an atrocious paper founded on, at best, a very flimsy argument.

For those interested in doing their own analysis, here’s the link to the paper:
Óðinn: A Queer týr