Disabled Masculinity

Njáll's beardlessness in the changing religious landscape of Medieval Iceland


  • Meg Morrow University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Disabled Masculinity, Disability, Masculinity, Gender Studies, Old Icelandic-Norse Studies, Icelandic Sagas, Íslendingasögur, Brennu-Njáls saga, Pre-Christian Religion, Christian Religion, Beardlessness


This article focuses on the implications of ‘disabled masculinity’ within the broader religious context of medieval Iceland as it is portrayed in Brennu-Njáls saga. Njáll Þorgeirsson, the titular character of the saga, is first introduced as being unable to grow a beard; this inability to engage in this traditional performance of masculinity marks him as a disabled man within medieval Icelandic society. The article not only explores how his disabled appearance interacts with gender-based insults and ridicule from his peers, but also considers his evolving depiction alongside the changing religious landscape of saga age Iceland. The intersectional approach between gender and disability studies employed here allows for a better understanding of the function of religious and legal knowledge within medieval Iceland’s patriarchal society.





Morrow, M. (2021). Disabled Masculinity: Njáll’s beardlessness in the changing religious landscape of Medieval Iceland. Mirator, 20(2), 21–37. Noudettu osoitteesta https://journal.fi/mirator/article/view/98543