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SCAND 335 A: Scandinavian Children's Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
GLD 322
Ann-Charlotte (Lotta) Gavel Adams

Syllabus Description:


SCAND 335 -   Spring Quarter 2016      

Scandinavian Children’s Literature - 5 credits


Mondays & Wednesdays 1:30 – 3:20   in GLD 322

Instructor: Lotta Gavel Adams, Professor

Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:30- 1:20   (Raitt Hall 305Z)  




Course content

This course offers the opportunity to study the narrative and pictorial tradition of Scandinavian children’s literature from the 17th century to the present. The stories and picture books will be discussed in their historical, pedagogical, and social contexts, from the pre-WWII focus on moral and religious themes to the 20th and 21st centuries’ focus on the child as an individual needing to adapt to an increasingly diverse and multicultural society. The emphasis of the course will be on analysis and interpretation of texts and pictures in their esthetic, political and social contexts. Recent picture books will be analyzed in terms of their pictorial-narrative techniques, themes, and how they reflect the child’s position in society with regard to ethnicity, gender, and power constellations.  



Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able

  1. to understand and discuss the structures and changing conventions of children’s literature in Scandinavia in their historical, pedagogical and social contexts.
  2. to approach children’s literature with a critical/analytical eye towards environmental, gender, ethnicity and power issues.
  3. to demonstrate skills in interpreting, writing about, and presenting children’s literature.



Grading is based on a midterm and a final exam, a group project, and participation in class and group discussions:

30% Two-Part Midterm (short-answer quiz + short analyses of early tales and stories)

20 % Group project (writing/producing a short children’s story (either an original story or reworking a traditional fable or fairytale) making use of the narrative techniques and themes discussed in class.

40 % Two-Part Final (short-answer quiz in-class May 25, 2016 + Two short take-home reflection essays due June 6, 2016.

10% Class preparation (pop quizzes) and participation in class and small group  discussions.

Required reading

Norwegian and Swedish Folk and Fairy Tales (Selections in Course Reader

at RAMS Copy Center)

Kalevala – Finnish National Epic (Excerpts in Course Reader at RAMS Copy Center)

H.C. Andersen. Fairy Tales. (available as $1.99 iBook)

Selma Lagerlöf. The Wonderful Travels of Nils (available at UBookstore or as free iBook)

Astrid Lindgren. Pippi Longstocking.

Astrid Lindgren. Ronja the Robber’s Daughter.

Tove Jansson. Tales from the Moomin Valley.

Maria Gripe. The Glassblower’s Children. (Course Reader at RAMS Copy Center)



Recommended picture books (will be presented in class; a selection is available at the UBookstore)

Der Struwwelpeter/Shock-headed Peter (1845).

Elsa Beskow. The Children of the Forest (1910).

Gro Dahle & Svein Nyhus. Sinna Mann (Angry Man; 2003). Snill (Nice; 2004).

Mauri Kunnas. The Canine Kalevala (2004).

Pija Lindenbaum, Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle (2007).

Ulf Nilsson, Eva Eriksson. All the Dear Little Animals (2006).

Ulf Nilsson, Anna-Clara Tidholm. Goodbye, Mr. Muffin (2002).

Sven Nordqvist. The Fox Hunt (1986).



Week 1

March 28                    Course Introduction; History: Locke, Rousseau; Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm;

                                    Early Fables, Moral Examples, and Legends, Urban Legends


March 30                    Folk and Fairy Tales: characters, plots, functions

                                    Norwegian stories and tales (Asbjørnsen and Moe)

                                    Norwegian Trolls (Kittelsen, Werenskiold)

                                   (Read selection in Course Reader)

                                   Group analysis/discussions



Week 2

Apr 4                           Swedish stories and tales  (Read selection in Course Reader)

                                    Swedish Tomtes and Trolls (Nyström, Bauer)

                                    Group analysis/discussions



Apr 6                           Picture Books: Nature, Environment, Death, Grieving, Anger: Elsa Beskow, Ulf Nilsson, Anna-Clara Tidholm,

                                   Eva Eriksson, Pija Lindenbaum, Gro Dahle & Svein Nyhus




Week 3

Apr 11                         The Finnish Oral Tradition: Kalevala

                                    The Canine Kalevala



Apr 13                       Swedish Children’s Theater: Champions of the World

                                   Guest speaker: Linda Zachrison, Cultural Counselor at

                                   The Swedish Embassy in Washington DC



Week 4

Apr 18                         The Authored Tale: H.C. Andersen

                                    Read: “The Princess on the Pea,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Nightingale,”

                                     “The   Ugly Duckling,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Shadow.”

                                     Group analysis and discussion



Apr 20                         Selma Lagerlöf: The Wonderful Travels of Nils;

                                    Eco-criticism; What does it mean to be a human being?                       

                                    Group discussion


                                    Review for Midterm



Week 5

Apr 25                         MIDTERM



Apr 27                         No class - Lotta at SASS conference in New Orleans


Week 6

May 2                         Post-WWII Children’s Literature: The child as individual

                                   Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Longstocking



May 4                         Astrid Lindgren: Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter  

                                    INTRO TO GROUP PROJECTS


Week 7

May 9                         Lindgren: Ronja, wrap-up



May 11                       Representations of multiculturalism in children’s picture books



Week 8

May 16                       Maria Gripe: The Glassblower’s Children; critique of commercialism in children’s culture and adult



May 18                       Work on Group Projects



Week 9      

May 23                       Tove Jansson: Tales from the Moomin Valley:

                                   “The Filliyonk Who Believed in Disasters,” “The Last Dragon in the World,” The Hemulen Who Loved Silence,”      

                                     “The Invisible Child,” “Cedric,” “The Fir tree.”


May 25                      Final Short-Answer Quiz              



Week 10

May 30                       Memorial Day - no class


June 1                       Presentations of Group Projects               



TAKE-HOME FINAL (two 20-points reflection essays with prompts) due on or before June 6, 2016 at 2:30 in Raitt Hall 318.


Catalog Description: 
The history, forms, and themes of Scandinavian children's literature from H. C. Andersen to the present. Exploration of the dominant concerns of authors, adult and non-adult audiences, and the uses to which juvenile and adolescent literature are put. Film adaptations and Scandinavian-American materials included.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:17pm