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Mythologized as the land of the aurora borealis and the midnight sun, Scandinavia’s five distinct nations–Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland–are often mistakenly associated with blond-haired and blue-eyed uniformity. Modern Scandinavia, however, is a place of great social and cultural diversity. From medieval Viking sagas to contemporary Nordic rap, the Scandinavian literary tradition is rich in tales of global exploration, childhood imagination, sexual revolution, and multicultural confrontation. Through readings of nineteenth-century drama, twentieth-century novels, and twenty-first century cinema, we will investigate a wide range of issues on class, ethnicity, and identity, including the indigenous reindeer-herding Sámi people, Danish colonialism and the Greenlandic Inuit, Norwegian collaboration and resistance during World War II, and Nordic emigration (to North America) and immigration (from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East). Discussion will also focus on Scandinavia’s leadership in gender equality and sexual liberation, Scandinavian political isolation and integration (into both the UN and the EU), and the global effects of Nordic pop (ABBA to Björk), glamour (Greta Garbo to Alicia Vikander), technology (Volvo to Nokia), design (IKEA to H&M), and activism (Alfred Nobel to Greta Thunberg). Readings to include works by Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, Astrid Lindgren, Halldór Laxness, Reidar Jönsson, and Peter Høeg. Films to include works by Ingmar Bergman, Lasse Hallström, Bille August, Colin Nutley, Lukas Moodysson, Josef Fares, Tomas Alfredson, and Tomas Vinterberg. All readings and discussions in English.
Format: seminar; This will be a remote course for all students, whether they are on campus or not. We will convene synchronously via web-conferencing, with an emphasis on group discussion. There will also be opportunities for students to engage with online activities both during and between our synchronous sessions. Remote office hours will provide even more opportunities for follow-up, questions, and further discussion.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
active participation, two shorter papers, a midterm, and a longer final paper
Comparative Literature and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies majors, and those with compelling justification for admission
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
As the course description explains, this course centers on a critical examination of difference, power, and equity in modern Scandinavia. The content examines the effects of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality on social (in)equalities among citizens, institutions, communities, and identities. The course also employs critical tools to teach students how to interrogate Scandinavian diversity and modernity, through reading, film analysis, discussion, and writing.
FMST Related Courses
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses