Stories
in Myth and materiality in a woman’s world
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This chapter looks at women and gender relations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through examination of the construction of historical myth. It focuses on three oral narratives with Shetland women to illustrate the points about genre and performance. Mary Manson, Mary Ellen Odie and Agnes Leask adopt similar performative styles for their narrations. All three narrative performances draw upon traditions of 'storytelling'. Shetland stories in particular tend to rehearse a number of traditional themes and maintain certain conventions, such as the use of direct quotation or speech and the introduction of significant detail at dramatic moments. From the late nineteenth-century popular fiction of Jessie Saxby to the modern novels of Margaret Elphinstone, the mythic ideal of Shetland womanhood has had a profound resonance. Norse myths and tropes are present throughout the popular cultural construction of Shetland identity.

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