Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Amos

Second Advisor

Dr. Larry Syndergaard

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary-Ann Constantine

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The folk-motifs of shape-shifting and transformation are an important mechanism in both Medieval Welsh and Icelandic literature. To better understand these motifs it is important to consider the ideas behind and the belief in these concepts. The role of the shaman and the separable soul, the Double, and the psychological projection all form a basis for shape-shifting in Medieval literature.

The Welsh literature will include: Pwyll, Prince qf Dyfed, Manawydan Son of Llyr, Math Son of Mathonwy, Lludd and Llefelys, Culhwch and Olwen, Peredur Son of Efrawg, The Hanes Taliesin,/em>, and the transformational poetry of Taliesin. The Icelandic literature to be examined includes: The Saga of the Volsungs, King Hrolj and His Champions, the sagas of Gongu-Hrolf, Hqfdan Eysteinsson, Bosi and Hellaud, Egil and Asmond, Stur/aug Starfsama, Eyrbyggja, and Egil.

By examining the Welsh and Icelandic literatures of the Middle Ages, looking at the motifs of shape-shifting and transformation, it is hoped that we will come to understand how the motifs were employed in each culture's literature, what the element of belief was, and the possible basis for their conception in Medieval literature.