Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7904
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Lewis , Katherine J.
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  • Title: Odin I await thee, Your true son am I: Seeing Medieval Masculinity in Heavy Metal
  • Source: Seeing Gender: Perspectives on Medieval Gender and Sexuality. Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, King's College, London, January 4-6, 2002.. 2002.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Heavy Metal Music Masculinity Vikings, Image of
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  • Abstract: This paper will explore the use and function of Viking imagery in Heavy Metal, in particular bands belonging to the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal which emerged in early 1980s. It will draw on recent studies of twentieth century uses of the Vikings to provide a methodological frame. In many ways there is nothing original about the ways in which Heavy Metal bands have used, and continue to use Vikings, in song lyrics, on album covers, and as part of the band’s image. But if we look at these uses in relation to the traditional themes of Heavy Metal and the profile of its fan base there are some singular features which make the Vikings particularly appropriate cultural signifiers within this context. In terms of fanbase/audience, the music and imagery of Heavy Metal can be seen as a function of the lifestyle and mythologies of a particular male youth group, a valorisation and idealisation of their values, experiences and their marginal status. The American traditional-metal band Manowar will provide a case study. I shall show the ways in which their lyrics, appearance and ethos are predicated on perceptions of the Vikings as embodying both the muscular heterosexual barbarian, and also the heroic champion of liberty. We will thus see the ways in which Vikings and Viking imagery are used by Manowar, and in particular by their bassist Joey Di Maio, to signify a form of hyper masculinity. This ‘metal masculinity’ is both hegemonic and defensive in nature, and ultimately owes its existence to certain ideas about the Vikings, as well as to perceptions of the meaning and construction of masculinity in the Middle Ages. [Reproduced by permission of the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference Organizers].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Huddersfield
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  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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