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SCAND 462 A: Isak Dinesen and Karen Blixen

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) & Modern Nordic Women: Public Intellectuals, Pundits, and Writers

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
THO 215
Joint Sections: 
GWSS 462 A, SCAND 590 C
Photo of Marianne Stecher
Marianne Stecher-Hansen

Additional Details:

In the early 1900’s, Nordic women were among the first women in the world to gain the right to vote and participate fully in public life as intellectuals, cultural critics and writers.  In the first half of the 20th century, modern women writers of the Nordic region often figured as public intellectuals who engaged in debates on women’s new political status as well as on a range of other issues.  Taking Karen Blixen (“Isak Dinesen”) as a central focus, this course will examine Dinesen’s work in relation to that of other modern Nordic women writers such as Astrid Lindgren, Aino Kallas, and Sigrid Undset, internationally recognized figures whose work is widely available in English translations.  

Rather than a survey of authors or works, the course will focus on challenging or controversial questions engaged by these women writers who often served as public intellectuals dealing with some of the 20th century’s greatest challenges.  Through essays, criticism and fiction, perspectives on the following will be explored:

  • Marriage; parenthood; sexual morality.
  • War and Occupation.
  • European Colonialism.
  • Animal Rights and ecology.

The class will distinguish and differentiate the various literary genres and forms of discourse employed by these literary women: particularly, the essay and radio talk; the literary tale and story; the memoir or autobiography. Coursework is based on inquiry-driven discussions and presentations with all students contributing their own interests and research to the class.  

SCAND 590C (Special Topics): Graduate students enrolled in the course will develop a focused research topic, preferably related to their thesis, dissertation topics, or reading lists.

Catalog Description: 
The fiction of Isak Dinesen (pseudonym for Karen Blixen) reevaluated in light of current issues in literary criticism, particularly feminist criticism. Close readings of selected tales, essays, and criticism. Offered: jointly with GWSS 462.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
September 13, 2020 - 9:20pm