Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Ingrid Tague, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alexandra Olsen

Third Advisor

William Zaranka

Fourth Advisor

Linda Bensel-Meyers


Borders, Celtic, Crossings, Halloween, Norse, Supernatural


This dissertation argues that border crossings were important to the ancient Celts and Norse as evidenced by the vast quantity of occurrences in their literature,and have remained important themes in literature throughout the ages. Border crossings reflect man's fascination with concepts beyond his immediate existence and understanding. His reactions to such inexplicable phenomena have provided inspiration to writers for hundreds of years. The investigation uncovers examples of border crossings in the epic stories captured in the Ulster and Fenian Cycles, TheTáin, The Eddas, and The Mabinogion.

Border crossings remain important for modern literary scholars to consider because they have not vanished. Although they are perceived differently, the concepts remain an integral part of our literary heritage. Analysis which implements border crossing themes explored in this work enables critics to employ a new methodology for engaging with literature, enhancing subtleties and observing moods and tones which might otherwise go unnoticed and unappreciated. Man's natural, instinctive continuing curiosity regarding the supernatural and mystery of the unknown provide a continuing thread of border crossing examples.

The epics of Ireland, Iceland, and Wales establish the foundation and environment of Otherworld activity for the romance and gothic genres which follow. The beautiful fairy-woman who convinces a mortal to follow her into the Otherworld; the "beheading" game; witches and potions; castles hidden in mists - these themes will be employed by later authors to define the mood and tone in works such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Macbeth, and Dracula.

Stories of the supernatural have fascinated mankind since storytelling began and scholarly research in the area of border crossings must begin with the early epics. Pagan stories of border crossings have a very different view of the themes than works written in a Christian environment. This work examines border crossings in the environment where the people actually believed an Otherworld existed as part of their own world. The research provides a baseline of border crossing themes and a reflection of how the ancients perceived them. This investigation is summarized with a look at the themes through the centuries, observing how border crossings have changed and evolved. Identifying the significance of border crossings in the early epics provides an insight into understanding where and how they are implicated in later literary works, and offers a view where scholars may continue to search for new literary border crossings. Such occurrences should be taken into account because identifying the continued presence of border crossings in hundreds of years of literature allows us to engage with these works in a new way, implementing a new analysis methodology to seek other worlds while broadening our reading experience.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Marian Russell Bland


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

161 p.


Medieval literature, Literature, Icelandic & Scandinavian literature