Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Alex Novikoff

Second Advisor

Sarah Star

Abstract

This project investigates the effect of deforestation on medieval Icelandic perceptions of tree-human relationships and the fundamental cultural paradox of a colonizing society who considered trees and humans as kin. To do so, this project combines a variety of interdisciplinary sources, from archaeological and archaeobotanical studies to legal and literary sources, and forms a multifaceted approach to both physical and metaphorical wood in the medieval Icelandic world. I first analyze the use of native and non-native wood by medieval Icelanders, and explore the impetus for widespread deforestation. I then explore the impact which deforestation had on concepts of tree sentience and human-tree kinship. Finally, I investigate the gradual separation between humans and trees in Old Icelandic literature which occurred contemporaneously to when the impacts of deforestation were beginning to noticeably change the Icelandic landscape.

Rights Statement

All rights reserved. This copy is provided to the Kenyon Community solely for individual academic use. For any other use, please contact the copyright holder for permission.

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